Jeff Marion Wins US Department of the Interior’s Highest Honor | VTX


“Dr. Jeffrey L. Marion is recognized throughout the U.S. Geological Survey for his decades of leadership and support in the field of recreational ecology,” Haaland said. and studied North America’s most outstanding national parks and forests, national trail systems, and wilderness areas with the goal of improving the sustainable management of these fragile and dynamic systems. Dr. Marion has forged an understanding of how America’s love of the outdoors can alter federal resources and how the public can help maintain the integrity of parks and protected areas for the enjoyment of future generations.

Over his 38-year career, Marion has studied the impact of millions of visitors to America’s parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, and he has developed science-based management strategies that have been widely adopted by land managers around the world. A founding member of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Marion has helped guide the development of the Leave No Trace principles, practices, and educational courses that serve as an international paradigm for the use and management of public lands.

His 2014 book, “Leave No Trace in the Outdoors,” is a comprehensive guide used by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, recreation and conservation groups, and the general public on how to enjoy the outdoors while protecting from the impacts of visitors. Proceeds from the book are donated to the Leave No Trace Center.

Marion grew up exploring nature in the woods, streams and caves of Kentucky. An outdoor recreation enthusiast, naturalist and Eagle Scout, he spent summers teaching hiking and climbing skills while majoring in biology at the University of Wittenberg. After earning her MS and PhD in Recreational Resource Management from the University of Minnesota, Marion began her career as a National Park Service Research Biologist in 1985.

He moved to Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources in 1989 to establish a cooperative parks studies unit. In 1997, when National Park Service scientists transferred to the US Geological Survey, Marion remained based at Virginia Tech to continue her research and teaching in recreational ecology.

At Virginia Tech, Marion has led and mentored graduate students in numerous research projects to help federal agencies increase the sustainable management of public lands. Over the past few years, he has collaborated in efforts to investigate the impacts of camping along the Pacific Crest Trail and the development of best practices for sustainable camping management, creating science-based guidance to sustainably manage the impacts of ultramarathons in national parks and forests in several states, and assess the sustainability of the Appalachian Trail and its many camping and recreation sites.

“After just one year as a college professor, the National Park Service engaged me in a scientific career that exceeded my highest expectations and dreams,” Marion said. “I have literally occupied the proverbial cloud nine since that day, pursuing my passions for making outdoor recreation enjoyable and sustainable through research, advice and education. While some have called me a “workaholic”, it has truly been a labor of love. I have enjoyed my work immensely, especially the pursuit of knowledge and collaborations with colleagues, students, agency managers, volunteer stewards, and the Leave No Trace community of educators.

Marion plans to retire at the end of 2023 after completing a book on the science of sustainable trail and camping management which he plans to publish for free on the internet and help his latest group of graduate students get started. a career as the next generation of recreation ecologists.

“I was the Home Office’s first and only recreational ecology scientist, and to be recognized at the end of my career with their highest honor is an honor I will always cherish,” he said. . “As visitation to our nation’s protected areas continues to grow, there is a growing new field of study that will provide the science needed to ensure the continued preservation and enjoyment of irreplaceable parks, forests, reserves and wilderness areas. of our country.”

“Jeff Marion is recognized globally as a scientist and leader for his work on backcountry visitor impacts, and he has had a distinguished career putting his science into the hands of land managers in the field. “, said Jay Sullivan, head of the department. forest resources and environmental conservation. “As a strong advocate and pioneer of the successful Leave No Trace program which seeks to minimize visitor impacts on the environment, he has made a huge difference to many landscapes and ecosystems. He loves the outdoors and he enjoys sharing those experiences and his vast knowledge with everyone who joins him.

“Jeff Marion made a difference throughout his career and pioneered an entire field of study,” said college dean Paul Winistorfer. “We have benefited enormously from Jeff’s presence at the college and his work. This recognition by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of the Interior bestows Jeff with tremendous honor, recognition, and acknowledgment for decades of exceptional, pioneering, and impactful work. We are all very proud of Jeff for receiving this honor.

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