Breath of Clarity

Impacts of Recreational Use- Education and Impact

There are management practices that are alternative to education. Two strategies deal with supply and demand: the supply of recreation opportunities many be increased to accommodate more use, or the demand for recreation may be limited through restrictions or other approaches (Manning 2010). The other two basic strategies treat supply and demand as fixed, and focus on modifying either the character of recreation to reduce its adverse impacts or the resource base to increase its durability (Manning 2010). A second classification system focuses on tactics, direct actions or tools applied by managers to accomplish the management strategies described above (Manning 2010).

Restrictions on length of stay, differential fees, and use permits, for example, are management practices designed to accomplish the strategy of limiting recreation demand (Manning 2010). Direct management may be less feasible than education, in a certain sense, because legislation and management agency policies applied to wilderness and related areas often emphasize provision of recreation opportunities that are unconfined (Manning 2010). Second, recreation is a form of leisure activity connoting freedom of choice in thought and actions (Manning 2010). Thirdly, studies show that the visitors prefer education over direct management practices (Manning 2010). Crucially, education may be more efficient because it does not entail the costs associated with enforcement of rules and regulations (Manning 2010). Additionally, for example, reservation systems may tend to favor visitors who are willing and able to plan ahead, but may be difficult and costly to administer (Manning 2010). Lotteries are often viewed as fair, but can also be difficult and costly to administer (Manning 2010). Pricing is a commonly used practice in society to allocate scarce resources, but may discriminate against potential visitors with low incomes (Manning 2010). Given the outlined disadvantages of some use-allocation practice, combinations of use-rationing systems should be considered (Manning 2010). For example, half of all permits might be allocated on the basis of a reservation system, and half on a first-come, first-served basis (Manning 2010). This would serve the needs of potential visitors who can and do plan vacations in advance as well as those whose financial situations do not allow for it (Manning 2010). There are visitors who do not resonate with initiatives communicated through education programs and a direct, regulatory approach can ultimately lead to more freedom rather than less (Manning 2010). Moreover, research suggests visitors are surprisingly supportive of direct management practices when they are needed to control the impacts of recreation use (Manning 2010). Alternative methods are particularly feasible when they complement education. Research indicates that visitors are often unaware of realties and regulations which suggests that managers must effectively communicate them to visitors using the educational programs (Manning 2010). For example, a regulation banning campfires should be implemented in conjunction with an education program explaining the need for such a regulation (Manning 2010).

A specific case study in the Petrified Forest investigates the problem of visitors stealing pieces of valuable wood from the park (Manning et al. 2017). The managers at the park effectively used education to address the issue by playing a video at the visitor center and installing a plethora of signs throughout the park (Manning et al. 2017). Combining the educational methods with direct management tactics, such as officials at the exit gate prohibiting visitors from taking wood outside the park and video surveillance, contributed to the managers doing well in solving the problem. When Manning et al. (2017) mentioned the role gift shops played in tending to the desire visitors have to take from the forest, it reminded me of my experience as a visitor here. Not only is it crucial to have gift shops with the wood, it is important for managers to consider where the shops are placed. Since the gift shops are placed before the entrance, people know they exist before they would have the thought to steal. It encourages people to make the right choice. The gift shops are also located along the main highway which makes them convenient and accessible. The more resource managers can increase the convenience of making the ethical choice, the more people will do so.


Manning, Robert. Studies in Outdoor Recreation, 3rd ed.: Search and Research for Satisfaction 3rd Edition. Oregon State University Press, 2010.

Manning, Robert E., Laura E. Anderson, and Peter R. Pettengill. 2017. Managing Outdoor Recreation: Case Studies in the National Parks. Wallingford: CAB International.

Comment by Fenton Kay:

Mary, I like your comment regarding the placement of gift shops. However, I have to ask about the issue of folks that don’t stop at the visitor center and that blow by the entrance gift shop. How will the park reach those folks with their educational message?

My Comment:

Good question to explore. I figure people who are skipping the gift shop and visitor center are focused on seeing the most under the radar spots. Putting security cameras in the areas that have the most valuable rock pieces is useful. Additionally, managers would need to place signs at the beginning of the park notifying visitors who just pass by in their cars that the area is under surveillance. That way, the visitors will not know when they are being watched and will be less likely to steal. Also, the Petrified Forest can implement some of the tactics in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore OHV Safety video (2019). For example, those who may not as care about following the law may be more motivated by ways managers can enhance their experience. Placing signs throughout the park about video surveillance can be combined with signs about suggestions such as airing down tires to provide more surface area as it gives vehicles more traction which would help anybody who is adventuring to parks by car. Having signage that brings the other visitors into play may also remind people that stealing from the park deters the experience of others for generations. The video also talks about their reasoning for rules and regulations having to do with protecting wildlife. Providing some sort of logic for why the rocks need to stay in the Petrified Forest linked to ecological matters may motivate people who are fascinated with the area to refrain from taking the rock home with them. The video even suggests a way, calling the turtle hotline, for visitors to get involved in monitoring the space’s ecology. Giving visitors some sort of ownership in the maintenance of the place is a great way to encourage good behavior. Managers could install a sign at the very beginning of the park that urges visitors to follow the rest of the signs. It could emphasize that signs along the way will communicate ways visitors can enhance the up keeping of the park. Then, mixing in regulations into the signs will notify people who were debating to steal that there is thorough monitoring around the premises.


2019. Cape Hatteras National Seashore OHV Safety Video. Accessed June 21.

Comment by Fenton Kay:

Good ideas, Mary. Thank you.