Evaluating methods for measuring visitor perceptions of ecological impacts at wilderness campsites Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/mw22v9886

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  • The objective of this study was to determine whether visitor perceptions of ecological impacts at wilderness campsites could be accurately measured using photographs or written descriptions rather than actual site evaluations. Photographs and written site descriptions of 20 campsites were used to measure perceptions of two forms of campsite impacts (bare ground and fire rings). Live site evaluations were used as the criterion for evaluating the photographic and description approaches. Four hundred fifty wilderness visitors were interviewed to assess perceptions of campsite preferences and other background variables. Twenty campsites in two different areas of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness were selected, 12 for bare ground and 8 for fire rings evaluations. Both hikers and horse riders were sampled to see if there were significant differences between the two groups. Evaluative standards were also established for the impacts in question, based on respondents' perceptions. Findings suggest that photographs and written descriptions can be used in place of site visits for evaluating specific impacts at campsites. For evaluating more general characteristics such as desirability or preference, however, there are more differences between the on-site and off-site methods. Horse riders were more tolerant thah hikers of large amounts of bare ground and large fire rings, and preferred sites with fire rings over sites without them. Evaluative standards were established for acceptable levels of bare ground and size and appearance of fire rings at the two study locations. Visitors found sites without fire rings or bare ground to be less acceptable than sites with small amounts of bare ground or small fire rings. The importance of bare ground and fire rings was compared to the importance of other physical campsite characteristics, such as view of scenic features, quality of tent site, shelter from weather, and proximity to other camps. Visitors ranked the impacts in question less important than other physical characteristics when evaluating campsites. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are offered.
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