Publication Abstract: Visitor use management is essential for maximizing benefits for visitors while achieving and maintaining desired resource conditions and visitor experiences on federally managed lands and waters. Visitor capacity, a component of visitor use management, is defined as the maximum amounts and types of visitor use that an area can accommodate while achieving and maintaining the desired resource conditions and visitor experiences that are consistent with the purposes for which the area was established. This visitor capacity guidebook, in combination with the “Visitor Use Management Framework” (the framework), provides managers with processes to collaboratively develop long-term strategies to manage the amounts and types of visitor use to protect resources, improve access, connect visitors to key experiences, and achieve desired conditions. The purpose of this guidebook is to provide cohesive guidance on identifying and implementing visitor capacity on federally managed lands and waters. Similar to the framework, the sliding scale of analysis is discussed throughout this guidebook to ensure the investment of time, money, and other resources for a project is commensurate with the complexity of the project and the consequences of the decision. Overall, this guidebook is meant to expand on the framework and guide a professional and consistent approach to identifying and implementing visitor capacity.
Paper Abstract: Most protected natural areas, including parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, are managed under a dual mandate to preserve predominantly natural settings and processes while also accommodating recreational visitation. Visitor activities can have deleterious impacts to protected area vegetation, soil, water, wildlife, and cultural resources. The term impact denotes undesirable visitor-related effects to natural resources and/or wildlife. This paper reviews the management of recreation impacts to wildlife, including discussions of influential factors, impact indicators, and the range of management responses. This information is provided to assist recreation and land managers in avoiding or minimizing visitor impact to wildlife, particularly related to decision-making within the new Visitor Use Management (VUM) framework. Such decision-making requires a thorough understanding of the different types of wildlife impact and the use-related, environmental, and managerial factors that influence them.