Project: Engaging Recreationists Pilot
Faced with high stakes and high tensions, the Oldman Watershed Council contracted Upaya Consulting to build a community-based social marketing program to help off-highway vehicle (OHV) users in backcountry areas to steer clear of sensitive waterways and stay on trail.
Given the new audience and highly polarized context, we spent a lot of time up front conducting in-depth interviews with OHV users to better understand their concerns, conflicts and contradictions, as well as the barriers and opportunities facing OHV riders and random campers. Research also focused on an extensive literature and case study review.
The primary goal was to clarify what, if anything, we could do to support recreationists to steer clear of water in as emotionally intelligent way as possible.
Over the summer and fall of 2015, the program focused efforts on building relationships within the OHV community, developing curriculum that used the landscape as the primary learning resource and piloting a number of community-based social marketing interventions. Most importantly, programming focused on building capacity to genuinely engage with recreationsists. Educators spent weeks in the backcountry talking with OHV users and campers, as well as building bridges--literally and figuratively--on the landscape.
The Oldman Watershed Council has received much praise from the OHV community, ENGO and government alike for this ground-breaking approach to adult environmental education and social marketing. It is likely to be expanded across Alberta.