Modeling areal measures of campsite impacts on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to enhance ecological sustainability

Journal of Environmental Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Campsite impacts in protected natural areas are most effectively minimized by a containment strategy that focuses use on a limited number of sustainable campsites that spatially concentrate camping activities. This research employs spatial autoregressive (SAR) modeling to evaluate the relative influence of use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on two salient measures of campsite impact. Relational analyses examined numerous field-collected and GIS-derived indicators, including several new indicators calculated using high-resolution Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) topographic data to evaluate the influence of terrain characteristics on the dependent variables.

Chosen variables in the best SAR models explained 35% and 30% of the variation in campsite size and area of vegetation loss on campsites. Results identified three key indicators that managers can manipulate to enhance the sustainability of campsites: campsite type, and terrain characteristics relating to landform slope and topographic roughness. Results support indirect management methods that rely on the location, design, construction, and maintenance of campsites, instead of direct regulations that restrict visitation or visitor freedoms. As visitation pressures continue to increase, this knowledge can be applied to select and promote the use of more ecologically sustainable campsites.

    Study Area

    Publication type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Title Modeling areal measures of campsite impacts on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to enhance ecological sustainability
    Series title Journal of Environmental Management
    DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111693
    Volume 279
    Year Published 2021
    Language English
    Publisher Elsevier
    Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
    Description 111693, 14 p.
    Country United States
    State Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
    Other Geospatial Appalachian National Scenic Trail
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