Social Media and Public Engagement in National Parks

My last post was about social media and how it has been used to catch vandals in US National Parks. But that is not the only way in which social media and national parks are converging these days. More and more, social media is being used by land management agencies (like the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, and the BLM) to engage with the public. Here I am going to highlight two social media campaigns that attempt to engage new audiences and bring those audiences out to experience public lands: The “Red Chair Experience” campaign from Parks Canada and the “Find Your Park” Campaign by the National Park Service.

Me "participating" in the #sharethechair campaign at the George Wright Society conference.

Me “participating” in the #sharethechair campaign at the George Wright Society conference.

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Social Media and Catching National Park Vandals

This past year I have upped my social media presence and tried to become a bit more “social media savy”.  Besides making an effort to become more active on Twitter, I also created an Instagram account. Honestly, the inspiration for starting to use Instagram was that I feared my constant posting of cat photos on Facebook was going to cause me to lose some friends. But on Instagram, the more cat photos the better, right?

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) this post will not contain any cat photos, but it will contain links to Instagram photos of illegal activity occurring in national parks . On Friday night, while taking a break from work – because grad students trying to defend soon work on Friday nights – I noticed an interesting post on Twitter from Modern Hiker that linked to Instagram.

Is @baronandre tagging inside @joshuatreenps? #Repost @baronandre with @repostapp.
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#mrA rock !

A post shared by Modern Hiker (@modernhiker) on

 

That image was found on the Instagram account of Andre Saravia (AKA Mr. Andre) a french graffiti artist and appeared to show a graffiti tag in a location that looks suspiciously like it was taken in Joshua Tree National Park. Mr. Andre stated that the photo was taken in a friends backyard (private property). However Modern Hiker, with the help of other social media users, did a great job “sleuthing” and found that the tagging indeed occured within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park.  Joshua Tree’s Chief Ranger received various calls about the graffiti and the park is beginning to investigate.

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Social Media and Recreation Research

ResearchBlogging.org Have you ever posted photos from a vacation to Flickr? Did you happen to geotag your photos? If so, then your vacation photos may have been part of a study that was recently published in Scientific Reports (an open access journal from the publishers of Nature). Recreation researchers have begun to explore the use of social media as a way to remotely gather information about recreation users.  Wood et al. data mined Flickr’s collection of geotagged photos to see if they could use social media resources to quantify use levels for nature-based tourism and recreation destinations across the world.

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Where in the world is Ashley D’Antonio? (I don’t think I have ever geotagged a photo…)

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