The issues and concerns facing recreation managers, academicians, and other practitioners are now often complex and important enough that solving them requires more than the sum of parts from social and physical disciplines. To that end, this dissertation document identifies and addresses three research projects that in varying proportions draw from the social and ecological aspects of recreation management. The first of three articles in this dissertation examined approximation of cross sectional soil profiles on foot trails. Monitoring this ecological indicator with current field techniques can be expensive and time-consuming for managers.
Therefore, this article described a modified procedure for assessing trail soil loss and discusses several potentially useful geometric curves for approximating the cross-section of a trail at a given sampling point and in aggregate across a trail network. Differences in profiles for each study area and implications for inventorying and monitoring were discussed.
The second article examined integration of soundscape and hiker spatial modeling. GPS data were used to generate a spatial model of hiker travel, soundscape modeling software calibrated with field data was used to generate a spatial model of sound, and the models were integrated in a geographic information system to provide insights for baseline and an alternative management option scenario. The findings suggested that small changes in soundscape, based on altered management practices, can have large effects on visitorsâ€™ hiking experiences in terms of soundscape.
The third article discussed an observational study examining several integrative and additive, information/education and site management approaches to preventing natural resource damage along backcountry trails. Video surveillance equipment unobtrusively captured hiker behaviors within the study area for each treatment. The findings suggested that direct, obtrusive measures (e.g., low symbolic rope fencing) in some cases can outperform multiple concurrent measures that are less direct and/or obtrusive. Implications on aesthetics, experiences, and management decision-making were discussed.