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Applying Social Science to Outdoor Recreation Management Diane Kuehn SUNY ESF.

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Presentation on theme: "Applying Social Science to Outdoor Recreation Management Diane Kuehn SUNY ESF."— Presentation transcript:

1 Applying Social Science to Outdoor Recreation Management Diane Kuehn SUNY ESF

2 Today’s presentation… What is social science? How does social science apply to outdoor recreation management? Case study: Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland Area

3 What is social science? Science that studies society and the relationships of individuals within society. Generally includes: Sociology Psychology Anthropology Political Science

4 Why is social science different from other types of science? Non-laboratory settings common Quasi experimental designs common Qualitative methods frequently used

5 Social science research methodologies Qualitative data collection Interviews Observations Focus group sessions Quantitative data collection Surveys Counts (e.g., of users, recreational license holders, etc…)

6 How is social science related to outdoor recreation research? Study sociology and psychology in recreational settings. Research topics can include: Interactions between recreating individuals Factors that motivate individuals to recreate Environmental impacts of individuals on areas used for recreation

7 How is social science research in recreation implemented? Identify issue (i.e., research question) Identify user groups Assess setting for research Identify most suitable data collection methods Conduct research Identify how to apply results to setting

8 Case study: Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland Area (ELODWA)


10 7 Public Areas:  3 state wildlife management areas  2 state parks  1 state natural area  1 TNC preserve

11 History of collaboration Early 1980s: High visitor-caused impacts to dune ecosystem Fragmented ownership State & county agencies NGOs Private property owners Funding needed for dune education and protection Ontario Dune Coalition Informal committee structure

12 The Coalition’s primary concern… How can environmental impacts from visitor use be minimized?

13 Early efforts Identified areas with erosion Identified and implemented visitor management strategies

14 Visitor management



17 Interpretive Program Signage

18 Interpretive Program Guidebook and brochures

19 Interpretation Program Dune Steward Program

20 The Coalition’s next concern… Are our management strategies working?

21 Three approaches to evaluation Visitor use study Visitor survey Photomonitoring study

22 Purposes of Visitor Use Study To assess trends in visitor use. To identify locations where use is concentrated. To identify factors that influence visitor use (e.g., weather). To create a strategy for monitoring use in the future.

23 Methods Review existing data Assess each property open to the public Based on access points and observed use, designate “Zones”

24 Indirect Count Method For each zone, collect: Full counts on randomly selected days Daily spot counts Weather data An equation was calculated for each zone in each public area. For example: Visitor Use = a + b 1 (Day) + b 2 (Spot Count) + …

25 Developing a monitoring protocol Data found to be significant in determining total visitor use: Day of the week (weekend, weekday) Daily spot count

26 Results Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Area Estimated number of visitors

27 Results Public areas within ELODWA Estimated number of visitors

28 Results Sandy Pond Natural Area Estimated number of visitors

29 Purpose of visitor survey To identify visitor demographics. To identify interpretive media used by visitors. To identify if the ELODWA’s interpretive message was being successfully communicated to visitors.

30 Visitor survey 2-page on-site survey completed in 1997 and 2003/04 1997: 93 visitors surveyed 2003/04: 359 visitors surveyed

31 Demographic Results 93% of respondents from NY 40% from Jefferson or Oswego Counties Group composition: Family (44%) Friends (23%) Family & Friends (23%) Alone (10%) Repeat visitors: 80% Length of stay/visit: 5 hours

32 Results

33 Small interpretive signs 91% (2003/04) had seen the signs. 93% (of the 91% above) indicated that signs encouraged them to stay out of the dunes. Approval of signs: 83% yes, 16% neutral, 1% no

34 Results

35 Is message getting across? Used open-ended questions 78% (2003/04) and 94% (1997) stated that beach grass anchors sand. 93% (2003/04) and 98% (1997) were able to identify one visitor behavior that causes erosion

36 Purposes of Photomonitoring To identify changes in vegetative cover on dunes. To identify changes in dune profile.

37 Photomonitoring 35 sites throughout ELODWA between 1997 and 2005 5-point scale of changes in dune appearance: 0 = no change 1 = less than 25% vegetation cover change on exposed sand 2 = 25 to 50% vegetation cover change 3 = over 50% vegetation coverage change 4 = complete vegetation coverage + increased dune profile

38 Results Ratings of 2 to 4 in 74% of sites Rating = 4, Sandy Pond Natural Area

39 Results Ratings of 2 to 4 in 74% of sites Rating = 2, Black Pond WMA

40 Results 9% slight change (rating of 1) 17% had no change (rating of 0) Rating = 1, Black Pond WMA

41 Outcomes of study Data collection protocol established Interpretive message is getting across to most visitors Positive changes in dune vegetation and profile Future management strategies Refocus of ELODWA staff on remote zones Staffing increased in Lakeview Additional efforts needed at Deer Creek Similar study proposed for Salmon River

42 In conclusion… Social science is useful for land use management because: It’s focused on both the users & the environment. It can be used to identify management strategies that take into account users. It can provide balance between the needs of users and of the environment.

43 Any questions?

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