Maya Passmore, Maria DiGiano, Nicole Ardoin
Understanding the human response to climate change is crucial, in order to develop effective action measures. This includes understanding individual hopes and concerns around climate change, the sense of place and connection to nature individuals exhibit, and how other crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic influences these factors. This study aims to explore how volunteer camp hosts at Big Basin Redwood State Park: connect to the Redwood Forest as a place in nature, interact with and talk about climate change, and the impact of COVID-19 on that connection to nature and relationship with climate change. We conducted one joint pilot interview with the camp hosts on site the summer of 2020 at Big Basin Redwood State Park. This interview asked a range of open ended questions over Zoom. The questions were sorted into four question blocks: Introduction and demographics, park resources and visitor experience, climate change and COVID-19. Initial themes of sense of wonder, connection to nature, gratitude, hope, concern, fear, anger, sadness, urgency, and belonging were observed. Sense of wonder, connection to nature, gratitude, and belonging were expressed in regards to time spent in the Redwood Forest, enhanced by the reduction of individuals in the park during COVID-19 closure. Concern, fear, and urgency were observed when discussing the impacts of climate change, as well as sadness and anger when specifically talking about the Redwood Forest and the impacts of climate change on the ongoing lightning complex fire that destroyed the park. Hope was expressed for the recovery and rebuild of the park from the fire, including the impact on visitor awareness of current impacts of climate change. The next steps for the ongoing research in the Social Ecology Lab including developing a complete codebook, conduct further interviews, and analyze the interview data to draw conclusions in regards to the role of climate change, COVID-19 and sense of place are expressed by volunteer camp hosts in Big Basin and other Redwood Parks.
I would like to thank the members of the Social Ecology Lab and the SESUR staff for making this project possible.
I especially want to thank the park rangers, staff, and volunteer personnel at Big Basin Redwood State Park for their service and dedication to the forest. I hope that the park can recover from the lightning complex fire. It truly was a wonderful place to live, and I hope that those that call the park their home will make it through these difficult times.
And finally, I would like to thank Donna Marykwas and Steven Passmore (my parents) for their participation in this project and for the ability to do research in the Redwoods this summer despite COVID-19.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments in regards to my research project.