Public lands are utilized by both recreationists and wildlife. The dual use mandate (Organic Act) requires the preservation of resources while maintaining recreational opportunities. Understanding recreationists helps us by identifying the habits, views, and economic contribution of outdoor recreationists. Policy makers then have an additional tool when making public land decisions that impact outdoor recreation. As part of a study examining interactions between recreationists and wildlife, we surveyed 311 recreationists at various trailheads in the Owyhee Recreational Area. In addition to gathering demographic information (average age: 34-49, average spent in 2013: $4,700), we asked about views on public land policies and use, and perceived recreational impacts on the ecosystem. The data show that although recreationists don’t agree with total trail closures, they do agree that trails should be seasonally closed to protect sensitive wildlife. When asked about factors that affect the integrity of public lands (wildfires, off-highway recreation, climate change, etc.) initial results show a moderate correlation (r= .77498) between factors they had personally observed and their views on how those factors should be managed. This may indicate that recreationists are more inclined to accept land use policies if they are personally aware of how certain factors impact the ecosystem.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/julie_heath/34/