Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area 2003 visitor use survey: Completion report

Open-File Report 2004-1281

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This report represents the analysis of research conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The purpose is to provide socio-economic and recreational use information that can be used in the development of a Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area (CCNCA). The results reported here deal primarily with recreation-based activities in four areas: Kokopelli Loops, Rabbit Valley, Loma Boat Launch, and Devil’s Canyon.

In the fall of 2002, researchers from the Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Program (PASA) of the Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) in the USGS met with the staff of the CCNCA to discuss the issues related to social, economic, and human dimensions of natural resource management related to the RMP. As a result, a research study was designed to investigate the recreational experiences of visitors and their attitudes toward the management of the conservation area.

In the spring of 2003, PASA conducted an intercept survey of recreational users at the CCNCA and a mail survey of local residents who were actively involved in decision-making regarding recreation on public lands in Mesa County, Colorado. Two hundred and three (203) mail surveys (66%) were returned and all of them were completed in full and considered usable. The intercept survey had a response rate with a range from 56%–64% among the four sites that were surveyed. We developed a questionnaire (OMB Control Number: 1040-0001) to answer the following questions:

  • What are the important differences in citizens’ attitudes regarding recreation at the CCNCA?
  • What are the factors that explain the differences in attitudes and preferences regarding recreation management of the NCA?
  • What are citizens’ attitudes and preferences regarding their attitudes about paying a fee to visit the CCNCA?

In general, respondents at all sites reported having an excellent or good recreation experience and almost all indicated that they intended to return. The results from the intercept survey indicated that across four sites 1(Kokopelli Loops, Devil’s Canyon, Loma Boat Launch, and Rabbit Valley) respondents reported support for undeveloped use and recreation restrictions to limit resource impacts. Respondents indicated that managing sites for undeveloped use was a good idea.

The respondents from the mail survey generally had a positive orientation toward current management practices of the CCNCA. According to our surveys, non-motorized trail related activities were among the three most popular activities people engaged in both close to home and while away. These trail-based recreational activities included walking, running, mountain bike riding, and horseback riding. Research has shown that people participate in these activities for many reasons including learning about nature, exercising, to learning about paleontology, escaping for awhile, and socializing with family and friends (Taylor, 2000). National data indicate that larger percentages of the general American population engage in trail activities than in many other traditional outdoor activities (Cordell, 1999). Over 65% of people in the U.S. engage in walking as a recreational activity (Figure 1). We found that people wanted to experience the outdoors and the CCNCA provided a good place to do it.

Trail activities are often those that people participate in on a regular basis as a way to exercise. This can make trail related activities more attractive from a management standpoint because people who participate in an activity may be more likely to be repeat visitors.

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USGS Numbered Series
Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area 2003 visitor use survey: Completion report
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Fort Collins Science Center
iii, 68 p.
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