Recreation Capital: Natural Resources, Amenity Development, and Outdoor Recreation in Bend, Oregon
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Robert M. Wilson
Amenity Development, Environmental History, Natural Resources, Oregon, Outdoor Recreation
This dissertation examines the production of recreational resources associated with amenity development. I argue that recreational resources are produced along lines similar to the production of timber, water, or mineral resources. Their production depends on the material characteristics of the resource, infrastructures of development, institutional arrangements, and the cultural symbolic value of rural and natural spaces. Scholars of amenity development have glossed over both the material elements of recreational resources and the history of resource development related to amenity landscapes. As a result, these scholars have overlooked insights concerning the production of resource spaces and evolving relationships between the city and the countryside. The dissertation utilizes insights from critical resource geography, the environmental history of resource development, cultural landscape studies, and histories of the American West. Drawing from sources such as government reports, business records, archival records, personal interviews, and newspaper research I construct a narrative of recreational development in Bend, Oregon since 1950. Before Bend became emblematic of the recreational development of the New West it functioned largely as a single industry company town, making it an ideal place to consider the production of recreational resources at the end of the 20th century.
After introducing the dissertation's goals and exploring the theoretical interventions it makes in chapter one, I examine, in chapter two, the resource relationships between Bend and its hinterland leading up to World War II, with particular attention to how the region's recreational opportunities were used alongside its timber and ranching resources. Chapter three addresses national concerns about recreational resource supply and demand by considering the work of the Outdoor Recreational Resource Review Commission and their effort to rationalize recreational resources and make them legible for conservation and development. Chapter four examines how one firm, Brooks Scanlon, converted some of its timberlands to a golf resort, capitalizing on the recreational amenities offered by its former timberland and setting the standard for further amenity development in Central Oregon. Chapter five examines the political debate about how to manage land on the urban fringe-land valuable for real estate development--in light of conflicts between the right to develop private property and the common good associated with symbolic and material characteristics of the countryside, in this case, migratory deer. Chapter six considers the infrastructure of the countryside and the city in the production of recreational resources through an examination of historical development and commercialization of the Century Drive Scenic Byway, Black Butte Ranch, and the Old Mill District. In Chapter seven, I return again to real estate development on the urban fringe to consider the impact of fire on exurban development and the institutional arrangements associated with reducing the risk and damage to recreational resources. Finally, I offer a conclusion that considers the production of recreational resources and its relationship to the production of space and the cultural landscape.
Olson, Brent, "Recreation Capital: Natural Resources, Amenity Development, and Outdoor Recreation in Bend, Oregon" (2012). Geography and the Environment - Dissertations. 71.