Current Projects

My current project examines the relationship between urban planning, resource management and amenity development in Bend, the “recreation capital of Oregon.”  This project explores the ways that recreational amenities become produced as recreational resources.  The recreational hinterland of Bend links corporate interests, government planning programs, and resource management programs across scales.  I provides the basis for spectacular population growth and exurban expansion in the region–expansion that threatens the very resources upon which it depends.

This project draws upon literatures in critical resource geography and environmental history to query the embedded relationships between cultural and natural landscapes as those landscapes become valuable as resources.  My own critical resource geography of outdoor recreation considers how the situated natures of resources, such as recreational landscapes, simultaneously fit into resource management regimes and challenge assumptions about their production, conservation, and cultural meanings.

This research engages contemporary discussions concerning the “New West,” in which, it is often claimed, rural parts of the the American West have severed ties to their resource-dependent economic patterns in favor of new developments based upon tourism and outdoor recreation. The mountains and deserts that surround Bend and similar towns throughout the West are sites of contestation, managed simultaneously as public goods, private property, and as aesthetic and natural amenities. The resulting landscapes, simultaneously preserved and produced, regulated and privatized, are deeply imbued with political economic, cultural, and natural histories that continue to draw upon mythic values of the landscape and reproduce resource-oriented understandings of nature.

In the time afforded by teaching and completing my dissertation, I’m beginning to formulate three new projects. One examines the cultural impacts of climate change on recreational resource communities. Another concerns historical geography of public land management, with particular attention on the Public Land Law Review Commission, 1964-1970.