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Comparison of Campsite Impact Monitoring Methodologies for the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area in New York State

Brendan Jackson, Diane M. Kuehn, Russell Briggs, Colin Beier, Lianjun Zhang


Ranking methodologies for estimating campsite impacts have traditionally been used in addition to (and sometimes in place of) actual measures of impacts. Ranking systems are easier to implement; however, there is concern that these methods may not accurately assess actual (quantitative) measures of impact. In the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area in New York State’s Adirondack Park, three ranking methodologies of campsite impact monitoring (i.e., Frissell Condition Class, Forest Service Minimum Protocol, and Multiple Parameter Categorical Ratings) were compared among each other and with a quantitative method (i.e., Research Level Survey) to evaluate campsite conditions. Although the three ranking methodologies classified campsite impacts with no significant difference in implementation time, the Multiple Parameter Categorical Ratings protocol provided a higher level of detail in the data than the other two methods. Measures of campsite condition from the three ranking methodologies significantly correlated with many of the quantitative measures collected through the Research Level Survey (e.g., soil density, seedling density, percent root exposure), but took much less time to implement than the Research Level Survey. However, implementing a modified Research Level Survey may be the better choice for monitoring campsites in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. Specifically, concerns over data consistency for several variables (i.e., water infiltration, seedling density, and 1- and 10-hour fuels) indicate that a Research Level Survey modified to exclude these variables may in fact provide ratio-level data that are more precise in the long term and that do not significantly increase implementation time over the Multiple Parameter Categorical Ratings protocol. 

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Park management; Campsite monitoring; campsite condition class

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