Effects of Tour Jeeps in a Wildland Setting on Non-motorized Recreationist Benefits
Keywords:wildland recreation, benefits, tour jeeps, visitor density, crowding, non-motorized recreation, motorized recreation, images, computer- manipulated photographs.
AbstractWildland recreation experiences result in many benefits to humans. These benefits are addressed by the Benefits Based Management (BBM) research and management system. BBM makes explicit linkages between the benefits recreationists receive and the quality of recreation experiences. Among the most commonly studied characteristics that influence recreation experience quality are relationships between visitor density and perceptions of crowding. Social norms for crowding vary widely depending on the evaluative dimension used to assess them and are also sensitive to perceived similarity between visitor types.We examined how commercial tour jeep density and color affected non-motorized visitors at a popular wildland recreation site in Arizona, using effect on recreation benefits as the evaluative dimension. We hypothesized that increasing jeep density would negatively affect recreation benefits at a rising rate, and that jeeps painted to match setting vegetation would affect benefits less negatively than jeeps painted a color that contrasted with the setting.A set of nine site-specific, photograph-based images, digitally modified to portray a range of tour jeep densities, and two different jeep colors, was used with a written questionnaire in an on-site visitor survey. Visitors were contacted upon their return to the study site trailhead after recreating in the area. After choosing one of seven possible benefit types as the one they valued most, respondents used Likert-type scales to rate conditions shown in each image for effect on their ability to attain these benefits.Physical fitness and restorative benefits were cited most often as most valued by our sample of 62 mountain bikers and 49 foot travelers, but relationships with nature, spiritual benefits, strengthened social bonds, and achievement benefits were also identified. Physical fitness benefits were valued by both visitor types, but bikers were more likely to cite restorative benefits, while foot travelers were more likely to cite relationships with nature and spiritual benefits as most valued.As density of tour jeeps increased, visitors’ ability to attain benefits decreased. Foot travelers’ benefits were more negatively affected by jeeps than were bikers’. Jeep color had less effect on benefits than jeep density, suggesting that negative effects of jeep tours on non-motorized recreationist benefits would be only slightly mitigated by painting jeeps to match setting vegetation. We recommend a limit of two commercial tour jeeps visible at one time in this setting. A density standard of five jeeps per hour was instituted in lieu of an annual cap on use in the study area.
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