Displacement as a Response to the Federal Recreation Fee Program


  • Ingrid E. Schneider
  • Megha Budruk


One potential criticism of fees and fee programs is their possibility of displacing current visitors. However, due to the challenging nature and additional resources required to study and understand displaced visitors, few studies utilize visitors who are actually displaced, rather they rely on hypothetical displacement scenarios. Research indicates, however, that visitors' hypothesized and actual behaviors may differ significantly. Therefore, it is important to study actual visitor behavior. This project surveyed visitors to a non-fee area within a National Forest to ascertain visitor responses and displacement from the fee areas in other parts of the Forest. Results indicated one-half of respondents chose the site because it was free and that one-third of visitors had changed their visitation in response to the fee program. Of those visitors who changed their behavior, one-half indicated inter- or intra-site displacement. Displacement appears to be a consequence of the fee program, yet managers may be able to circumvent it with additional and better information. Both managers and researchers need to better understand visitor responses and the exact circumstances that lead to displacement over other behavioral response choices.





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