Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (60 KB bytes)

Title: Resource impacts caused by recreation

Author: Cole, David N.;

Date: 1986

Source: In: The President's Commission on Americans Outdoors (U.S.): a literature review. Washington, D.C.: The Commission: Management 1-11

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: The pursuit of recreational activities inevitably has an effect on the resource--vegetation, soil, wildlife, and water. Whether these impacts are considered to be positive or negative depends on the management objectives of the area affected. The severity of the positive or negative response, which dictates the acuteness of the need for mitigation measures, is also influenced by management objectives. Generally, the problems associated with a given level of impact increase as we move from the more urban and developed end of the recreational opportunity spectrum toward the primitive and wild end of the spectrum (Clark and Stankey 1979). Impact problems are particularly common in wilderness. Vegetation impacts on campsites are reported to be, a problem by managers of 71 percent of all wilderness areas. Soil impacts on trails are a problem in 61 percent of wilderness areas. Wildlife disturbance and water pollution are reported to be problems in 33 and 18 percent of wilderness areas, respectively (Washburne and Cole 1983).

The reasons for concern about impacts are numerous. In wilderness and nature preserves, impacts compromise the objective of preserving natural conditions. Elsewhere impacts can make recreational areas and facilities less attractive, desirable, or functional. Loss of tree cover on campsites, erosion of trails, and attraction of pest wildlife species are examples. These impacts can substantially increase maintenance costs. Finally, onsite impacts can damage offsite areas, such as where erosion of off-road vehicle (ORV) trails causes siltation of streams.

Keywords: outdoor recreation, impacts, recreation management, wilderness, conservation

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Cole, David N. 1986. Resource impacts caused by recreation. In: The President''s Commission on Americans Outdoors (U.S.): a literature review. Washington, D.C.: The Commission: Management 1-11


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.