Using a geographic information system (GIS) to monitor recreation impacts in a forested setting Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/k643b423p

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  • With a growing population and increasing demand for recreation resources, managers of public lands face unique challenges in allocating and overseeing resource use. One of the most reliable methods for gathering information from resource users involves surveying. Summaries and applications of survey results typically have not fully addressed the spatial nature of use patterns and user statistics. Where users travel across areas that feature multiple paths and destinations, greater specificity may be needed in examining survey data. This study presents a Geographic Information System (GIS) application involving the assessment of recreation impacts on visitors to McDonald Forest, a 7,200 acre research and education forest managed by Oregon State University. Data collected from 1,641 forest visitors are examined using methods of statistical data analysis commonly found in carrying capacity research. In conjunction with this analysis, the same data are analyzed and presented through the use of a GIS. Following these analyses, four hypothetical exercises are presented concerning issues that are of concern to forest staff. Survey results indicated that recreation impact levels were generally acceptable to McDonald Forest visitors. Significant differences were detected in the impact levels reported for different access points and days of the week. Additional use monitoring revealed that use levels have increased nearly 25% over three years in Oak Creek. GIS results showed that this approach can assist in the representation and analysis of spatial distributions of McDonald Forest users. The GIS results demonstrated utility in mapping typical recreation impacts including conflicts, crowding, and encounters. In general, recreation impacts were highest in the areas surrounding the main access points to the forest. The spatial distribution data were used to estimate the number of visitors potentially impacted by a proposed harvest, a road closure, and a controlled deer hunt. In addition, the spatial distribution of dogs throughout the forest was mapped. This study demonstrates a new technique for analysis and display of data collected from recreation users. It demonstrates a departure from typical recreation studies and shows how a GIS might be employed in the management of forest resources.
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