Title: Influence of benchmarking on wilderness visitor and manager perceptions of campsite conditions
Author: Flood, Joseph P.;
Source: In: Schuster, Rudy, comp., ed. Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-302. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 165-172
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Description: The purpose of this study was to compare visitor and manager perceptions of how heavily impacted wilderness campsites and restoration activities to restore them influence quality of visitor experience and opinions of managers. The study conducted in the Mission Mountains Wilderness ("MMW") is located in northwestern Montana and managed by the USDA Forest Service. MMW visitor results from 293 surveys, 32 interviews, and 2 focus groups were compared to results from a national survey of 33 Forest Service wilderness managers. Even though both visitors and managers indicated that observing restoration has both a positive influence on the quality of visitor experience and opinions of managers, visitor responses were more positive. There was a positive correlation between years visitors spent visiting wilderness and their responses to restoration, while manager responses tended to be less supportive of restoration the more years they worked. When visitors and managers were asked to reflect back over time and express how wilderness conditions influenced the quality of visitor experience, visitors indicated positive responses (many impacted campsites in the MMW have been, or are, currently being restored) while managers indicated that impacted campsite conditions over-time had significantly reduced the quality of visitor experience. Furthermore, managers expressed less support for the effectiveness of restoration the longer they were managers. Findings show that both visitor and manager perceptions of campsite conditions are influenced by previous benchmarking: suggesting that visitor and manager reactions to campsite conditions and support for restoration are based on information gained from prior visits, perceptions of what wilderness should look like, and by comparing the conditions of campsites observed at other wilderness areas. Overall, managers and visitors felt that restoration is a positive educational tool and demonstrates that someone cares about the area.
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Flood, Joseph P. 2003. Influence of benchmarking on wilderness visitor and manager perceptions of campsite conditions. In: Schuster, Rudy, comp., ed. Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-302. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 165-172
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