View Selected Publication

Select another publication number to view citation:   
Citation for publication number 909:
Marion, Jeffrey L., Leung, Yu-Fai, Eagleston, Holly, Burroughs, Kaitlin. (2016). A Review and Synthesis of Recreation Ecology Research Findings on Visitor Impacts to Wilderness and Protected Natural Areas. Journal of Forestry. 114(3), 352-362.
Leopold Publication Number 909
Download this publication (1.4 MB)
Not available to order

     The 50th anniversary of the US Wilderness Act of 1964 presents a worthy opportunity to review our collective knowledge on how recreation visitation affects wilderness and protected natural area resources. Studies of recreation impacts, examined within the recreation ecology field of study, have spanned 80 years and generated more than 1,200 citations. This article examines the recreation ecology literature most relevant to wilderness and backcountry, with a focus on visitor impacts to vegetation, soil, wildlife, and water resources. We also review relationships with influential factors, such as the amount of use, visitor behavior, and vegetation type. An understanding of these impacts and their relationships with influential factors is necessary for land managers seeking to identify acceptable limits of impact or selecting management actions that will effectively avoid or minimize resource impacts. Management and Policy Implications: Outdoor recreation in wilderness and other protected natural areas is an important value and ecosystem service to our society, but visitor activities can also induce undesirable effects to various ecological components and visitor experience. To integrate wilderness protection and recreation objectives, managers require objective information on recreation impacts so they can evaluate the ecological and social significance of impacts as well as their control. This article synthesized recreation ecology research intended for enhancing our understanding of recreation impacts while advancing the practice of visitor impact management. The results suggest that advances in recreation ecology have gone further with vegetation and soil, whereas research on wildlife impacts has gained momentum in recent years. Recreation impacts on water quality remains a less active research area. The body of knowledge on recreation impacts has demonstrated its utility in informing visitor planning, management and education strategies, and actions being implemented in wilderness and other protected natural areas.