Jeff Marion, Ph.D.

Biography

Jeff Marion grew up exploring the woods, streams, and caves of Kentucky, developing strong interests in nature study and high adventure outdoor activities. One of four Eagle Scouts in his family, he served for five summers at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, teaching backpacking and climbing skills. Coursework in biology, ecology, and geology at Wittenberg University led to a B.S. in Biology (1979), and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Recreation Resources Management from the University of Minnesota (1982/84). Graduate studies focused on recreation ecology research, combining strong personal interests in the ecological sciences with his continuing passion for outdoor recreational pursuits, particularly backpacking, climbing, caving, and canoeing. His doctoral research measured camping-associated environmental impacts in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to investigate relationships between biophysical impacts, amount ofuse, and plant community, soil, and ecological classifications.

Following a year teaching park management at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls campus (1984-85), Dr. Marion was employed as a Research Biologist with the National Park Service, Mid-Atlantic Region, duty-stationed at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Initial studies focused on visitor impact and carrying capacity research for rivers within three of the Region’s parks. In 1989, his duty station moved to Blacksburg, Virginia, where he established a Cooperative Park Studies Unit in the College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech. Initial research focused on studies of campsite impacts and monitoring protocols at Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, and Big Bend National Parks. In 1994, he was moved to the National Biological Survey and in 1997, to the U.S. Geological Survey, though he remained at Virginia Tech as Unit Leader of a Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Field Station.

At Virginia Tech, he is an Adjunct Professor in the Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation Department, where he works with graduate students in conducting his program of recreation ecology research. Studies have expanded to include a current focus on formal and informal trails, visitor impacts to cliffs, and the efficacy of management actions designed to avoid or minimize visitor impacts. Most studies are funded by the National Park Service but studies have also been conducted on National Forests, Fish and Wildlife Refuges, and in Central and South American protected natural areas that serve as ecotourism destinations.

A founding member of the Board of Directors of Leave No Trace and Chair of the LNT Educational Review Committee for ten years, he helped develop Leave No Trace principles, practices, educational materials, and courses. He is the author of the national Leave No Trace program's offical book: "Leave No Trace in the Outdoors," endorsed by the federal land management agencies  His active involvement with this work continues and was extended to the Boy Scouts of America in 2001 with participation on a BSA Task Group to incorporate Leave No Trace practices throughout their Fieldbook and Handbook, and in 2006 as a founding member of their Leave No Trace Task Force, which assists the BSA in incorporating LNT practices into their publications, outdoor practices, and training courses. He also served as a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Stewardship Council (2005-11), serving as Chair of the Trail and Camping Committee.

Publications:  Google Scholar listing: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=h11GExQAAAAJ&hl=en

Education:

  • B.A. Biology,  9/75-6/79, Wittenberg University
  • Environmental Science, 9/79-6/80, Duke University - School of the Environment (transferred)
  • M.S. Recreation Resources Management, 9/80-3/82, Univ. of Minnesota - Forest Resources
  • Ph.D. Recreation Resources Management, 3/82-7/84, Univ. of Minnesota - Forest Resources

Affiliations: Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation, Recreation Resource Management Program,  Full Professor (Adjunct). E-mail:  jmarion@vt.edu

Non-Research Affiliations:  Founding member of the Leave No Trace (LNT) Board of Directors and Educational Review Committee (former Chair).  Active in developing and directing the peer review of LNT educational practices, courses, and educational messaging.  Member of the Appalachian Trail Conference Stewardship Council and active in research and visitor impact management consulting with the Appalachian Trail community.  Former member, Board of Directors, American Hiking Society.  Former Scoutmaster (5 yrs) and current leader of a co-educational Venture Crew (13 yrs).

Recognitions:

William T. Hornaday Natural Resource Conservation Gold Medal Award (2007), Boy Scouts of America, National Office – Scouting’s most selective and prestigious national conservation award, presented by the National BSA Conservation Committee to fewer than 50 individuals since its establishment in 1914. It is presented to a scouting leader who has rendered distinguished and unusual service at the national level to natural resource conservation and environmental improvement over an extended time. “Jeff’s long-term commitment to developing, promoting and teaching Leave No Tracepractices have led many to better respect and responsibly visit our frontcountry, backcountry and wilderness areas. His efforts led to a greater involvement in LNT by scouting through its adoption as an integral part of the national scouting program.” He was also recognized with the Hornaday Gold Badge Award in 2006 for conservation work in his local Scout Council. 

Distinguished Service Medal, presented by the Boy Scouts of America for volunteer service to advance Leave No Trace education and training within the BSA. “Dr. Marion has provided 20 years of assistance to the Boy Scouts of America to incorporate Leave No Trace practices and ethics in the Scout Handbook, Scout Fieldbook, Merit Badge pamphlets, and numerous BSA courses. He was a founding and active member of the BSA Leave No Trace Task Force, a national group that guides LNT educational efforts within the BSA.”

Featured in the 2012 Leave No Trace Annual Report for substantial “Member Activism”. Excerpt: “Jeff Marion, recreation ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey … has played a critical role with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics since the organization was formed. A founding Leave No Trace board member and long-standing member of the Center’s Educational Review Committee, Jeff’s research and activism have helped propel Leave No Trace programming.

Boy Scouts of America, Distinguished Staff Alumni Award, Philmont Scout Ranch, 2017.  To recognized “distinguished or exceptional personal success or achievement on a national or international level … that brings honor and credit to the legacy of the Philmont staff.”  For two decades of service to the national BSA office in guiding the incorporation of Leave No Trace practices to the official BSA Handbook, Fieldbook, Merit Badge pamphlets, websites, courses, and rank requirements.