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Visualizing social-ecological intensities for management of recreation visitors in a multiuse system

December 6, 2021

Accounting for the variation of visitor conflicts and ecological disturbance of outdoor recreation activities across space and time can cause difficulty for managers seeking to make decisions in social-ecological systems (SESs). We develop a method to quantify and visualize social and ecological intensities resulting from outdoor recreation. We demonstrate the utility of our method at Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, where we conducted onsite surveys for an entire year of recreationists participating in consumptive (i.e., hunting), intermediate-consumptive (i.e., fishing) and nonconsumptive (e.g., hiking) activities. We use survey results and combine them with expert consensus by engaging refuge managers and scientists (i.e., Delphi method) to chart patterns in social (e.g., visitor conflicts) and ecological (e.g., damages to natural resources) intensities across multiple spatial and temporal scales. We highlight unexpected patterns that are revealed by collectively considering multi-activity groups through space and time and combining different survey methods (onsite, Delphi method). Based on the consensus reached using the Delphi method, the consumptive group had the greatest potential for social conflicts and ecological disturbances. Social and ecological intensities (i.e., hotspots) of recreation varied across lake types and seasons, highlighting high-intensity areas and periods on the refuge. Accounting for diverse outdoor recreation activities and coinciding social and ecological intensities will allow managers of SESs the ability to concomitantly preserve ecological resources, prioritize conservation efforts, and minimize visitor conflicts. We demonstrate the utility and ease of use of this technique, which can be implemented by managers and scientists within their respective SES of interest.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Visualizing social-ecological intensities for management of recreation visitors in a multiuse system
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.114224
Authors O. A. DaRugna, C. J. Chizinski, Kevin L. Pope, L. A. Powell, M. A. Kaemik
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Environmental Management
Index ID 70229760
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

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