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Visitor use and activities detected using trail cameras at forest restoration sites

December 29, 2023

We used trail cameras to monitor human visits and activities at two sites in northeast Indiana being restored to bottomland hardwood forests. These sites, managed as nature preserves, are close to cities, where trails and parking lots have been added for ease of access. In this study, trail cameras were successfully used to capture visitation rates and activity types. The two sites had median visitor use rates of 1 and 13 visitors per day. Across both sites, “parking lot use only” (62%), hikers (30.2%), and bicyclists (5%) accounted for more than 97% of site visits. Overall, most weekday visitor-time occurred during daylight hours, peaking at lunch and evening. Mean total number of daily visitors was higher during weekends; however, total daily visitor-time did not vary between days of the week. Michaelis-Menten rarefaction models of sampling efficiency across the study’s four camera stations suggest sampling duration of 27 to 55 days to accurately estimate mean daily visitor counts and 3 to 40 days to detect half the maximal numbers of observed activities. Study estimates of visitation provide land managers with information for accommodating visitor use activities on the restored sites and offer inputs for cultural ecosystem services assessments and associated economic analyses.

Publication Year 2023
Title Visitor use and activities detected using trail cameras at forest restoration sites
DOI 10.3368/er.41.4.199
Authors Janice L. Albers, Mark L. Wildhaber, Nicholas S. Green, Matthew Struckhoff, Michael J. Hooper
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Restoration
Index ID 70250981
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center