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Assessing the Credibility of the Weather Dependency Framework: Comparing Backcountry Skiers’ and Hunters’ Perceptions

Rose I. Verbos, Matthew T.J. Brownlee


This article describes the results of a credibility analysis of the Weather Dependency Framework (WDF; Verbos & Brownlee, 2017), a tool that combines multidimensional weather-related variables to aid in the interpretation of the weather dependency of outdoor recreation activities. We define weather dependency as the degree to which a specific outdoor recreation activity is reliant on particular weather and resulting conditions. In the WDF, seven factors and 32 variables were hypothesized to contribute to a recreation activity’s weather dependency. The need for this work was evident because the WDF was created using prior literature and an expert panel, and therefore required an inquiry into its credibility. The credibility of the WDF was assessed by exploring backcountry skiers’ and hunters’ perceptions of their own weather dependency using semi-structured interviews (n=40). Selection of study participants was based on purposive snowball sampling to identify interviewees, which involved initial research participants suggesting ideal candidates for future interviews. Ultimately, study participants were selected to ensure a range of representation within recreation specialization, past use history, demographic indicators, and allowed deliberate selection of hunters and skiers beyond participant suggestions. Researchers highlight seven emergent themes including access, strategy, terrain, culture, opportunity, high engagement, and deterrent for participation. We complete the credibility analysis by discussing the factors that are confirmed, disconfirmed, and inconclusive, which are a result of variable-level evaluation. Overall, the WDF has fairly high levels of credibility based on backcountry skiers’ and hunters’ perceptions of weather dependency. We discuss insights into the credibility of the WDF based on backcountry skiers’ and hunters’ perceptions of weather dependency and provide recommendations for future research, including further development of the WDF. Management implications include science-informed strategic decisions about resource investments, such as providing or denying access to key areas based on enhanced understandings of weather dependency. Further, managerial implications exist for ski and hunting area managers with links to enhanced understanding of recreationists’ weather dependency for evaluating and planning for recreation opportunities. Finally, increasing or decreasing weather dependency can occur as managers manipulate variables within the weather dependency framework to provide diverse recreation opportunities.

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Ecotourism; climate; national forest; national park; outdoor recreation; protected areas; public use; sustainable tourism; weather

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