Protected natural area managers are challenged to provide high quality recreation opportunities and ensure the protection of resources from impacts associated with visitation. Development of visitor use facilities and application of site hardening practices are commonly applied tools for achieving these competing management objectives. This study applies stated choice analysis to examine visitor opinions on acceptability when they are asked to make tradeoffs among competing social, resource and management attributes in backcountry and frontcountry settings of Acadia National Park. This study demonstrates that asking visitors about recreation setting attributes uni-dimensionally, a common approach, can yield less informative responses. Analyses that considered direct tradeoffs revealed more divergent opinions on acceptability for setting attributes than a unidimensional approach. Findings revealed that visitors to an accessible and popular attraction feature supported trail development options to protect resource conditions with unrestricted visitor access. In contrast, visitors to a remote undeveloped island expressed stronger support for no or limited trail development and access restrictions to protect resource conditions.
Additional publication details
Exploring visitor acceptability for hardening trails to sustain visitation and minimize impacts