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The influence of use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss from recreational trails

Authors:
  • United States Geological Survey Eastern Ecological Science Center

Abstract

Recreational uses of unsurfaced trails inevitably result in their degradation, with the type and extent of resource impact influenced by factors such as soil texture, topography, climate, trail design and maintenance, and type and amount of use. Of particular concern, the loss of soil through erosion is generally considered a significant and irreversible form of trail impact. This research investigated the influence of several use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss on recreational trails and roads at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the U.S. National Park Service. Regression modeling revealed that trail position, trail slope alignment angle, grade, water drainage, and type of use are significant determinants of soil loss. The introduction of individual and groups of variables into a series of regression models provides improved understanding and insights regarding the relative influence of these variables, informing the selection of more effective trail management actions. Study results suggest that trail erosion can be minimized by avoiding “fall-line” alignments, steep grades, and valley-bottom alignments near streams, installing and maintaining adequate densities of tread drainage features, applying gravel to harden treads, and reducing horse and all-terrain vehicle use or restricting them to more resistant routes.
68 International Journal of Wilderness | August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 | International Journal of Wilderness 69

in recommended camping distance from waterbodies from
a perspective that there should be consistency between the
guidance provided by land management agencies and low
impact education and communication programs, such as


suggest that it’s time to reexamine the biophysical and social
-
native management options, and where there are needs for

and suggest alternative actions based on the current body of
research.
Background


streams, and springs), imposing regulations that prohibit camp-


COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
Conflicting Messages about
Camping Near Waterbodies
in Wilderness:
A Review of the Scientific Basis and
Need for Flexibility
PEER REVIEWED
by Jeremy Wimpey
by Jerey Marion
by Ben Lawhon
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2018). An earlier survey by Washburne and Cole (1983) reported the following percentages of
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and 100 feet as the most common value (22 units, 23%).
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
their individual units. However, such programs generally recommend extra precaution when
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
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Outdoor Ethics (the Center). Five of the primary federal land management agencies have been






adaptations are sometimes necessary.

Trace program’s Education Review Committee, composed of representatives of the federal land


was selected that would be generally applicable to the diverse array of environmental settings


70 International Journal of Wilderness | August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 | International Journal of Wilderness 71



-


also important, with 22% reporting that they chose their site because it was not too close to other
groups.
These and other surveys reveal that visitors are strongly attracted to water in both frontcountry
(developed) and wildland settings. Their reasons are varied and include the need for water,










The following problem description section examines some of the existing literature related to

Problem Description: Shoreline Camping
Ecological Concerns



sedge cover can survive low to moderate levels of trampling due to their substantially greater






-


provide educational consistency by establishing a universal distance to guide campers in their



wildlife access to water sources, particularly in arid environments, and 3) to promote visitor soli-

a concern, and deeper soils with organic litter and dense ground vegetation cover, particularly


to limited water sources for wildlife and the potential for human-introduced pollutants to enter

-
mendations and agency guidance for camping distances from surface waters in wilderness is

-




ecological, cultural/historic, social/experiential, and wildlife and rare/sensitive species research
and management concerns.
Social Science: Visitors Are Attracted to Water

-





factors included the facilities and services available, fees, campground age, campsite spacing,

2-


visitor interviews reinforced the regression results, revealing the most important determinant for
August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 | International Journal of Wilderness 7372 International Journal of Wilderness | August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2
-
sary. Campsites larger than around 1,000 feet2 (93 m2) might be considered excessively large,







camp and relocate to a safe location.



elevated levels of total coliform bacteria and available phosphate compared to controls (King




bacteria.



in place for several years, but Cole cautions that compliance was low, and enforcement had
Figure 2 – 




-







vegetation and organic litter, and allow water to percolate into shoreline soils. As demonstrated
in Figure 2, it may be possible to reroute water access trails so they do not drain campsites to





An additional concern for shoreline campsites along streams and rivers is the increased poten-

vegetation cover on campsites as well as the reduction and removal over time of shrub and tree



Figure 1a-b – 

in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) (right).
74 International Journal of Wilderness | August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 | International Journal of Wilderness 75
camping occurs in riparian areas wildlife may be deterred from visiting water sources even at


When camping is unregulated, visitors may create unnecessarily large numbers of campsites
in popular destinations areas. For example, Cole (1982a) assessed camping impacts around two





proliferation to numbers that substantially exceed actual need can be a common problem asso-
ciated with unregulated and general dispersed camping polices, including in eastern wilderness

Complexity and Challenges of Camping Management in Riparian Zones

exceptionally strong attractant to visitors. Our review of ecological, cultural, social, and wildlife
concerns provides ample support for shifting camping away from the shorelines of water bodies.
However, we note that it is possible for riparian campsites to be carefully located and managed


the proliferation of campsites (often within popular shoreline riparian areas) to excessive and
unnecessary numbers, and (2) universally poor visitor compliance with regulations that establish

locations creates excessively and unnecessarily large campsites and/or dense clusters of

There is evidence that managers may not achieve the closure and recovery of shoreline

use by visitors, and that such regulations promote campsite creation in new areas that meet




are low and shoreline campsites persist. Research indicates that all use must be eliminated for
these campsites to achieve substantial or full recovery, and management experience in most


eat lunch, or relax can prevent their recovery.



larger but had less bare ground (areal extent and percent). They also had more vegetation cover,



Cultural and Historic Concerns

water. Thus, shorelines often have cultural or historic sites, particularly in more arid environ-
ments. While some of these sites have been found and documented, many more may exist but
are undocumented or hidden below ground. Camping activities that remove protective vegeta-
tion and soils may expose cultural and historic resources to theft, damage, or to being eroded


Social and Experiential Concerns

from across the water and from vista points along adjacent ridges and summits. The presence
of barren campsites within a view shed can diminish the feeling of being in a pristine wilderness,
can mar the natural appearance of a photo, and can diminish the aesthetics of natural land-
scapes. Occupied campsites may diminish solitude, particularly given that they become more
visible with colored tents and with sounds traveling farther across water (Cole 1982a). Anglers




from the water are generally less visible and pose fewer problems related to both crowding and

Wildlife and Rare/Sensitive Species Concerns



in arid environments where dependable water sources are rare. Some wildlife, such as bighorn
sheep, are considerably more vulnerable when separated from steep terrain and are easily
displaced from water by the presence of humans (Papouchis, Signer, and Sloan 2001). When
76 International Journal of Wilderness | August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 | International Journal of Wilderness 77


operated more than 2,000 designated campsites for more than four decades in northern Min-


within acceptable levels of change in this heavily visited wilderness (Eagleston and Marion








Observations by the authors reveal high visitor compliance and the near recovery of older adja-
cent closed campsites. These policies can help to establish a clear and easily adopted practice
that allows many visitors to camp in their preferred destination, which can promote greater
compliance among those who are unable to obtain a desired site.
We suggest that a containment strategy (1) can help eliminate unnecessary campsites, (2) can



-




preferred and sustainable (see Marion, Arredondo, Wimpey, and Meadema in this issue for fur-


restore unnecessary, and less resistant, desirable, and appropriate campsites.

programs and land management agencies are a desired goal for low impact messaging, includ-


-



-




unambiguous policy that also includes a compelling rationale.


the most sustainable campsites and then close and restore all others. Cole (1981) recommends
this strategy, noting that providing some riparian campsites avoids eliminating preferred existing
sites and limits increasing campsite numbers further from the shore. This camping manage-
ment strategy is fully described by Marion, Arredondo, Wimpey, and Meadema in this issue of


managerial contexts. An integrative policy can address all the concerns in the prior problem
description section while permitting a limited number of highly sustainable campsites in riparian

An integrative policy should address all the concerns … while
permitting a limited number of highly sustainable campsites
in riparian settings that promote the high-quality camping
experiences that many visitors so strongly desire
There is evidence that the public will be supportive of a designated site camping strategy. For



-



78 International Journal of Wilderness | August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 | International Journal of Wilderness 79

social, and wildlife concerns. However, we also note that managers can and have carefully




suggests that several decades of management experience has not led to the widespread and




Recreation ecology research and management experience has consistently demonstrated the

Further Research Needs




experience has provided ample ancillary evidence describing numerous limitations and failures.

and improving the implementation of a containment strategy with designated site camping in
popular high-use areas, including those proximate to water bodies, and established site camping
-

sustainable campsites, and spatial-based regulations and low impact camping practices for
visitors.
Acknowledgments
The authors express their appreciation to a peer review conducted by David Cole and helpful
comments from Ken Straley and Ralph Swain.
JEFFREY L. MARION is a recreation ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey stationed at Virginia Tech;
email: jmarion@vt.edu
JEREMY WIMPEY is the owner of Applied Trails Research, an outdoor recreation rm that develops science-
based solutions to challenging visitor use management issues; email: jeremyw@appliedtrailsresearch.com
BEN LAWHON is education director for the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics; email: ben@lnt.org
80 International Journal of Wilderness | August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 August 2018 | Volume 24, Number 2 | International Journal of Wilderness 81





-

-






-








References
-



-

-



-

-






-

-

-



















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... Besides, destination attributes might significantly influence visitor loyalty and recreational experiences. Concerning recreational trails and parks, the most commonly examined destination attributes influencing outdoor experience were landscape, environment, vegetation, wildlife and climate change impacts on the site (Dorwart et al., 2009), as well as artificially created attributes such as trail design attributes, amounts of use, transportation, accommodation, supporting facilities and management (Olive & Marion, 2009;Sever & Verbic, 2018;Yin et al., 2020;Zhang et al., 2020). Some authors have examined the non-visual attributes on a mountainous, remote trail, such as fresh air and soundscape (Sever & Verbic, 2018), safety and security (Keith et al., 2018). ...
... Not surprisingly, the absence of trash receptacles was determined to have a very negative effect on most of the nature-based visitors' experiences in Slovenia (Verlič et al., 2015), Hong Kong (Ribet & Brander, 2020), Croatia (Sever & Verbic, 2018) and Portugal , implying that, regardless of geographical context, recreational site cleanliness and related facilities remain important factors for visitors. Visitor satisfaction with the parking and toilet facilities increase the odds of WTP, which is supported in the related literature (Kelley et al., 2016;Olive & Marion, 2009;Sever & Verbic, 2018) and suggests that a respective focus on these trail attributes would be appropriate for trail design and development to enhance a visitor's experience. The least satisfaction with trash receptacles and significantly higher odds of WTP due to the absence of trash receptacles demonstrates the importance of visual aesthetics and consequently a willingness to support appropriate investments in trail infrastructure, which is supported by the literature (Ribet & Brander, 2020). ...
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Recreational trails represent corridors of benefits to human health and well-being, learning and education through an understanding of other cultures or countries, raising environmental awareness, local economic development, limiting the dispersion of the visitors, linking key attractions of a given area or diversifying tourism markets. However, trail development and design require to keep up sustainability principles and understand trail user perceptions. This paper aims to identify trail management priorities to improve sustainable design and visitor experience. The most popular hiking trail of Portugal located in the Algarve region was used as a study case to describe recreation opportunities of the trail’s management, development stage, preferred trail attributes and determinants of trail visitor loyalty. This study applied the recreation opportunity spectrum framework and the logistic regression model. Planners and managers might utilise these results to identify strategies for nature conservation and sustainable trail development, simultaneously maximising trail-related experiences among loyal trail users.
... In contrast, not every non-eroded segment was measured as similar conditions were observed on these segments: Instead, 4 non-eroded sections of~10.7 m (20 steps) in length were measured for each trail. Erosion at each site was calculated using the Cross-Sectional Area (CSA) method [52][53][54], in which depth to the ground below taut strings at the upper, middle and lower ends of each eroded section was measured at 20 cm intervals (using a measuring pole) across the width of the trail. For each site, these three sets of width/depth measurements were averaged to obtain the cross-sectional area. ...
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Natural area tourism may contribute to deterioration in biophysical environments important for sustainable conservation of biodiversity and/or historically significant sites. Levels of protection within the IUCN guidelines provide general descriptors of desirable outcomes, and the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) management tool has often been implicitly applied. This article presents an initial attempt to assess the value of Thresholds of Potential Concern (TPC) relative to LAC as management frameworks for protected areas, using the example of trail width as an indicator of visitor impacts on vegetation, soil, water and, potentially, visitor safety. Visitor preferences relating to trail width were incorporated when applying the TPC and LAC principles. Sections of three walking trails in a high-visitation national park near Sydney, Australia, were measured at ~10.7 m intervals: the mean trail widths were 1.6 m, 1.8 m and 2.14 m. Of the 115 recreationists surveyed, 16% of those having the greatest tolerance towards management interventions (‘Non-purist’ wilderness category) viewed a trail ≥ 2 m wide as acceptable, but 96% of ‘Purists’ nominated a maximum of ≤1.5 m. The TPC was found to provide a broad strategy for identification, assessment and grading of multiple biophysical thresholds within an ecological framework. Combined with stakeholder information, the TPC allows for timely, proactive and calibrated management responses to maintaining biophysical and social sustainability.
... Tourist foot traffic remains one of the most prevalent forms of human impact in many mountain areas and may strongly affect the triggering and acceleration of morphogenetic processes in mountains, as shown in a large variety of studies, including one in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area in Montana, USA (Cole 1983), Rocky Mountains in the USA (Wilson and Seney 1994;Svajda et al. 2016), the Karkonosze mountain range in Poland (Kasprzak 2005), as well as the Pyrenees in Spain (Bodoque et al. 2017). On the other hand, in areas where other forms of tourism are permitted, horseback riding and ATV use generate the most damage to relief (Deluca et al. 1998;Wilson and Seney 1994;Newsome et al. 2008;Olive and Marion 2009;Törn et al. 2009;Pickering et al. 2010). Therefore, the various types of covers, for example fine-fraction or coarse ones, and other anthropogenic pressure within tourist footpaths result in different morphological effects, as the research from Monts Dore Massif in France (Krzemień 1995(Krzemień , 1997(Krzemień , 2010, Tatra Mountains in Poland (Gorczyca andKrzemień 2009, 2010;Fidelus 2016;Fidelus-Orzechowska et al. 2017), Bucegi Mountains in Romania (Mihai et al. 2009) and Andes in Argentina (Barros et al. 2015) shows. ...
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Mountain protected areas are characterized by high biodiversity, which makes it a great challenge for managers to maintain a balance between their use and the stability of natural ecosystems. Maintaining that balance is particularly difficult in areas with high tourism pressure. The expected volume of tourist traffic should be considered at the planning stage of the tourist infrastructure development process. Insufficient capacity of tourist infrastructure can lead to environmental degradation, which is hard, or at times impossible, to repair. In our research, we identified patterns of tourist footpath and road functioning in an environmentally protected area with high volumes of tourist traffic. Data from geomorphologic mapping was analyzed in order to identify tourist footpath and road structures in the Tatra National Park (TNP). Fieldwork was conducted in several stages between 1995 and 2019. Orthophotomaps from the years 1977, 2009, 2017 and 2019 were used to identify and compare degraded zones along selected tourist footpaths. Degraded zones were defined as areas surrounding a footpath or tourist road with a mean width larger than or equal to 10 meters, with heavily damaged or completely removed vegetation and exposed, weathered cover, where geomorphic processes that would not take place under normal conditions are readily observable. The examined tourist footpaths and roads vary in terms of their morphometric parameters. Research has shown important differences between mean and maximum footpath width as well as maximum incision depth for the forest zone versus the subalpine and alpine zones. A lack of differences in these parameters was noted between the alpine and subalpine zones. Research has shown that an increase in the surface area of degraded zones found adjacent to tourist footpaths occurred in all the studied geo-ecological zones in the study period. However, the largest increase occurred atop wide ridgelines found in the alpine zone. Degraded zones may be an indication of exceeding the tourist carrying capacity of a mountain tourist area. Mass tourism in TNP contributes to the formation of degraded zones adjacent to footpaths, whose continuous evolution may lead to irreversible changes in local relief.
... While there are many positive outcomes of outdoor recreation on upland paths, including the benefits of exercise for physical and mental health (Vergunst, 2013;Wilson & Seddon, 2018) and the economic boost to rural communities, recreation in the uplands also leads to land degradation (Olive & Marion, 2009). Millions of feet and bike tyres unavoidably make an impression on the ground, leading to erosion and disturbance to flora and fauna ( Figure 1). ...
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With a right to responsible access across almost all land in Scotland, millions of recreationists make free use of an extensive upland path network. These paths provide easy access to some of the most spectacular, but most fragile habitats in the country. This path network is expected to come under increasing pressure from both use and climate. With many hundreds of kilometres already in poor condition, a new strategy to sustainably manage this important resource is required. As key stakeholders in the management of upland paths, understanding landowner engagement is key. Based on semi-structured qualitative interviews with land management representatives we found a diverging sense of responsibility for path management along the private/non-private landownership divide, but a positive attitude towards public access across the board. This resulted in a generally positive intention to engage in upland path management. Principal factors influencing engagement are; landowner awareness of the complex and nuanced issues associated with path degradation, the perceived benefits of path works, and the availability of and access to appropriate funding. From this, a typology of behaviours was developed. More than one behaviour type was identified on most properties, with engagement increasing in-line with severity of path degradation.
Article
Mountain hiking and biking trails are important components of the tourism infrastructure, represent opportunities for recreation, and form a network that prevents uncontrolled tourist dispersion. The erosion processes accelerate under tourist impact in the forested mountains, revealing exposed roots. The aim of our study was to estimate the mean erosion rates along two hiking trails and one mountain biking trail in the Bucegi Mountains, using dendrogeomorphological approaches. The three trails used were: Sinaia town – Cota 1400 hiking trail (SHT), Sinaia biking trail (SBT), a downhill mountain biking trail and Buşteni town – Urlătoarea Waterfall hiking trail (UHT). The following results were obtained. The mean erosion rate along SHT was between 1.7 and 19.6 mm • y⁻¹ with an average of 6.4 ± 4.6 mm • y⁻¹, wherein half the cases showed an erosion rate between 1 and 5 mm • y⁻¹. The mean erosion rate along SBT was between 2.6 and 49.4 mm • y⁻¹, with an average of 24.2 ± 14.4 mm • y⁻¹. Values between 1 and 20 mm • y⁻¹ represent 41.9% and the remaining 58.1% comprise values between 20 and 40 mm • y⁻¹ or even exceeding 40 mm • y⁻¹. In the case of UHT, the mean erosion rate was between 3.5 and 36 mm • y⁻¹, with an average of 14 ± 8.1 mm • y⁻¹. The differences in values between these three trails are represented in terms of trail usage time, type of use, hiking versus biking during the hot season, and the age of roots. Our study highlighted that the forested mountain environment is sensitive to tourist impact while also proving that the dendrogeomorphological approach is a useful tool for evaluating the mean erosion rates of trails based on the exposed roots.
Article
The article analyzes the weak and excessive influence of recreational load on forest litter within the track and their roadside by seasons (summer → autumn → spring → summer). It was found that the Skoliv Beskydy region of forest litter in the summer are 2,1−2,4 kg·m⁻², while on the track of first category they are – 1.2 kg·m⁻², and on the trails of IV category – was not detected forest litter. In the autumn on the track litter stocks increase by more than 50% compared to the summer. Litter reserves increase due to the fraction of leaves, the share of which is about 40% of the total mass. In the spring, forest litter stocks decreased almost twice, while within the roadside recorded an increase in the proportion of detrytu. The reason for such a sharp decrease in forest litter stocks on track and increase within the roadside can be considered mechanical movement and shredding of leaves by people in the autumn, and in the spring - leaching and transfer of rain water to the side of the trails. It was found that by the end of the summer forest litter stocks on first category track decreased by about 23% and by 8% - within the roadside. In the summer, no forest litter was found on track IV category, within the boundaries of this track, stocks did not exceed 0,3 kg·m⁻². The accumulation of forest litter within the roadside is due to: slow processes of transformation of forest litter, leaching of forest litter by rain from the «upper trail» to the «lower», the width of the trail and its direction, recreational influence.
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Os solos são circunscritamente considerados recursos naturais para fins econômicos para muitas áreas do conhecimento, como por exemplo, a Agronomia e as Engenharias. Em áreas protegidas por sua vez são relacionados à sustentação da vida. Este olhar funcional dos solos demonstra sua subvalorização como parte dos 5G (patrimônio geológico, geodiversidade, geoconservação, geoturismo e geoparques). Estudos relacionados aos impactos ambientais por sua vez não correlacionam a valoração da natureza para além da biodiversidade. A partir destas premissas o presente trabalho pretendeu estabelecer um inventário do patrimônio pedológico representado por pedossítios, bem como os fatores ambientais impactantes nos solos de trilhas em áreas naturais protegidas, ambos para a sua pedoconservação. Foram selecionadas três trilhas médias e lineares, sobre substratos diversos, em áreas altamente visitadas de unidades de conservação (UC) da Serra do Espinhaço Meridional /MG: a “Trilha da Cachoeira da Farofa” no Parque Nacional da Serra do Cipó (PNSC) sobre diamictitos e sedimentos de aluvião; a “Trilha do Pico do Itacolomi” no Parque Estadual do Itacolomi (Peit) sobre filitos e quartzitos; “Trilha do Campo Ferruginoso” no Parque Estadual da Serra do Rola Moça (PESRM), sobre couraças e itabiritos. A metodologia envolveu três etapas: escritório, campo e laboratório. A primeira envolveu revisão e elaboração de instrumentos de coleta de dados (formulários estruturado qualitativo-quantitativos de oferta pedoturística por meio de “Lugares de Interesse Pedológico” – LIPe nas trilhas amostradas); tabulação de dados de oferta e geração de gráficos no software Microsoft Office Excel. A segunda por: seleção de pontos significativos para teste de resistência superficial do solo através de penetrômetro de cone com anel volumétrico; abertura de trincheiras nas margens (zonas intactas) e leito principal (zonas de visitação) das trilhas com descrição macromorfológica dos horizontes pedológicos; coleta de amostras deformadas e indeformadas de solo com o objetivo de detectar eventuais alterações físicas e morfológicas como compactação nos horizontes mais superficiais e erosão no leito da trilha; e quantificação pedoturística. A laboratorial envolveu: análises textural (granulométrica), medida da porosidade por meio da adsorção de nitrogênio líquido (N2BET), difratometria de raios x e microscopia óptica de lâminas delgadas. Os resultados demonstraram que há alterações físicas e morfológicas mais significativas nos solos do leito das trilhas do que nas adjacências, na sequência Peit>PNSC>PESRM, que se acredita serem relacionadas ao substrato, declividade e visitação. Os 28 LIPe inventariados têm pontuação média baixa quanto aos critérios científico e cultural mas alta quanto ao educativo e turístico, carecendo de estratégias de geoconservação, como proteção legal, conservação, valorização e divulgação e monitoramento. Tais LIPe são atrativos fundamentais para as “trilhas-solo”, estimulando uma ramificação do ecoturismo, turismo rural e geoturismo: o “pedoturismo”. Apesar do fim maior das unidades de conservação ser a conservação da biodiversidade e a categoria Parque permitir a visitação com fins científicos, é premente o maior investimento em pesquisas para a conservação dos recursos abióticos. Espera-se que tais dados sirvam para a revisão dos planos de manejo das três UC, conciliando os três tipos de relatórios e se fazendo como extensão para seus conselhos consultivos, na forma de contribuição para a gestão, pedoconservação de suas trilhas-solo, satisfazendo comunidades tradicionais do entorno e visitantes.
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Background: The extent to which mountain biking impacts upon the environment is largely determined by rider behaviours. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how mountain bikers interact with the natural environment and explore their attitudes towards sustainability. Methods: 3780 European mountain bikers completed an online cross-sectional survey. Results: Connection to nature was an important source of motivation and the use of mountain bike trails has increased rider's appreciation of and willingness to protect nature, with a large majority having taken direct action to do so. Mountain bikers are prepared to contribute towards trail maintenance through the provision of labour or financially. Although most mountain bikers make use of wet trails and illegal trails, incidence of conflict is relatively low. A range of characteristics were identified as being fundamental elements of sustainable trails, both in relation to the sustainability of the trail itself and in terms of wider environmental sustainability. Conclusions: European mountain bikers care about the sustainability of the natural environment. Self-reported attitudes and behaviours suggest a willingness to reduce environmental impact and actively protect nature.
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The rights that guarantee public passage across private land are known as Rights of Way. In this paper, we argue that Rights of Way are a literal manifestation of a politics of space. The paper’s purpose is to suggest Rights of Way are central to issues surrounding social and spatial inequality, specifically with regards to public access to urban and rural space. They are a neglected topic in geographical research, despite their relevance to many subbranches including landscape studies, urban natures, GIS and open‐source geospatial research. Rights of Way in England and Wales are currently facing their biggest legal threat to date. On the 1st January 2026, unregistered Rights of Way (RoW) are set to be extinguished. Path Extinguishment threatens 1000s of kilometres of footpath, bridleway, restricted byway and byways open to all traffic. The paper concludes by examining how the aforementioned geographical approaches help reveal the cultural and historical value of two at‐risk footpaths in Coventry, England.
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This report describes results from a comprehensive assessment of resource conditions on a large (24%) sample of the trail system within Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area (BSF). Components include research to develop state-of-knowledge trail impact assessment and monitoring methods, application of survey methods to BSF trails, analysis and summary of results, and recommendations for trail management decision making and future monitoring. Findings reveal a trail system with some substantial degradation, particularly soil erosion, which additionally threatens water quality in areas adjacent to streams and rivers. Factors that contribute to or influence these problems are analyzed and described. Principal among these are trail design factors (trail topographic position, soil texture, grade and slope alignment angle), use-related factors (type and amount of use), and maintenance factors (water drainage). Recommendations are offered to assist managers in improving the sustainability of the trails system to accommodate visitation while enhancing natural resource protection.
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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.
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Managers of protected natural areas seek to protect their natural conditions while providing opportunities for recreational visitation. Camping is an essential element of backcountry and wilderness recreation for a variety of protected natural areas in the U.S. and internationally. Furthermore, overnight visitors to protected areas spend a substantial portion of their time on campsites so their behaviors determine the nature and extent of resource impacts, and the quality of their recreational experiences can be affected by campsite conditions. The U.S. Forest Service manages nearly 2000 designated campsites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This research assessed resource conditions on 81 wilderness campsites and paired undisturbed controls in 1982 and 2014 to quantify long-term ecological changes. A comprehensive array of physical, vegetative, and soil indicators were measured to identify long-term trends over 32 years of continuous campsite use.
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The quantity of trail impact on the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as measured by cross-sectional area loss, was related to soil type, vegetation type, precipitation, and trail slope.-from Authors
Chapter
This chapter explores aspects of natural and human-caused changes on that portion of the archaeological resource base consisting of archaeological sites. It describes previous research, some applications of research results to theory building, management, and field studies, and a set of proposals for future research. Impacts on sites are determined by physical observation, measurement, and description; effects on values are determined by reference to an outside philosophical, methodological, or regulatory standard. Impact types most commonly observed are alteration, transfer, and removal. Transfer and removal of artifacts, without alteration, affects the integrity of the site, and the validity of the cultural inferences based on artifact location or descriptions. Aside from removal of specimens or sediments altogether, extensive disturbance of strata or specimen location is the most detrimental impact the archaeological record can suffer. In conclusion, the study of impacts on archaeological resources has serious implications for archaeological theory building, archaeological resource management, and future research in both theoretical and applied archaeology. Further, the study of impacts on archaeological resources can provide a scientific, theoretical, and methodological underpinning for the future of our profession.
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To better understand how high-use destination areas a short distance from trailheads and close to urban areas might best be managed, we studied six such areas in the Alpine Lakes, Mount Fefferson, and Three Sisters Wildernesses in Washington and Oregon. We quantified recreation impacts on system trails, social trails, camp-sites, and lakeshores. We also quantified visitor encounter rates between groups, during the day and in the evening, on the trail, and at the destination. We conducted exit interviews with visitiors to explore who they were, what they encountered, their responses to what they encountered, and their management prferences. Encounter rates in these destination areas were extremely high, clearly exceeding those preferred by most visitors. Most visitors expected to have numerous encounters, and most were not bothered by the high encounter levels they experienced. Only 10 to 23% supported reducing use levels. Recreation use has caused substantial impact in these destination areas, although generally not more than has been reported in many other wildernesses. Most visitors noticed these impacts and reported that impacts dectracted from their experience. Visitors were highly supportive of site management approaches such as trail or site closure programs and revegetation programs. Potential management approaches for dealing with problems in these areas are: (1) increasing visitor education, (2) reducing amount of use (by day users, overnight users, or both), and (3) increasing site management. Intensifying site management programs would have the highest ratio of benefits to costs.