Breath of Clarity

Management Principles- Impacts of Recreational Use

Principle #1- Outdoor recreation should be considered within a threshold framework of concerns: the resource environment, the social environment, and the management environment. As Manning (2010) mentioned, this threefold framework was found to be useful in the analysis of a number of issues including visitor preferences, carrying capacity, diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities, indicators and standards of quality, the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum, and attitudes toward management. Manning (2010) provided a stellar example of how recreation-related impacts to trails and campsites can degrade the quality of the visitor experience and this may require management action. Further, each of the three components holds potentially important implications for defining and managing outdoor recreation opportunities and experiences, and failure to give explicit consideration to each component and the interactions among them may leave outdoor recreation unmanaged in important ways (Manning 2010).

Principle #2 is less important because it prioritizes the social environment instead of equally recognizing the importance of the resource and management environments. It also does not see much value in the idea we talked about a few weeks ago regarding inaccuracy of visitor perceptions of conditions. Sometimes visitors do not necessarily know what they need. From there, managers must analyze the situation to make sound choices based on maintaining the resource environment which will in turn help the visitors have quality experiences.

Principle #3 does make a great point that visitor satisfaction is multifaceted. Therefore, it would lead to more accurate data and better results than principle #2. However, it is still too focused on visitor satisfaction to make the list of top 3. It bases management tactics on only visitor perception, instead of incorporating other components into the solution.

Principle #4- There is substantial diversity in outdoor recreation. As Manning (2010) mentioned, diversity is found in many aspects of outdoor recreation, including recreation activities, socio-economic and cultural characteristics of participants, visitor attitudes and preferences, experience level of visitors and their sensitivity to crowding and conflict, levels of specialization, and motivations for outdoor recreation. Some themes we discussed throughout the quarter are that management needs to diversify the types of recreation activities, recognize the importance of making the outdoors accessible to a variety of demographics, obtain accurate and complete data about visitor preferences that is based upon motivations and benefits, and make sure that experience level is noted amongst the whole population to result in safe situations. In order to ensure there are no exceptional cases that severely deter the visitor experience for anyone, it is important for managers to take all cases into account. The constant fine-tuning of management strategy is due an effort to satisfy a variety of needs which definitely makes this a crucial principle.

Principle #5 only includes one of the crucial points that principle #4 encompasses as part of its statement. So, the later is more important because it is able to cover more ground. Principle #6 does correctly note that understanding motivations and benefits is more useful than only measuring participation and visits. However, if given the chance, it is useful for managers to track all of the above. There is no need to leave out the latter two just to show that motivations and benefits are revealing. Principles 7, 8, and 10 apply to general scientific endeavors and are not necessarily specific to studying impacts of recreational use. Therefore, while they are important, they do not make my list of top 3 because they are more obvious compared to the top 3. Principle #9 is not as important as Principle #4 and would draw away from the latter’s importance if it was included in the list of top 3. Recognizing diversity is more important than placing visitors into categories. Using techniques to gather data that take individual stories into account may bring creative insights into the management strategy. Finally, Principle #13 does not override the ones that emphasize the useful quality of objective, numerical data. The prescriptive, subjective components should compliment the descriptive characteristics and would never be powerful enough to override the others.

Principle #14- Outdoor recreation management requires a long-term commitment to monitoring. Long-term is the key important factor here. Since the early 1990s, Prospect Park’s managers in New York have actively implemented a woodland restoration program that serves as a model for long-term urban restoration (DiCicco 2014, 314). Managers found that restoration would only be successful with a long-term commitment and continual, incremental restoration work (DiCicco 2014, 314). Additionally, Principle #14 includes all of #11 and more. Since #11 also covers #12, then #14 is the most important out of all those. Without monitoring, the objectives, indicators and standards of quality would be established but not actually taken seriously in terms of implementation. As Manning (2010) mentioned, contemporary outdoor recreation management frameworks rely on an explicit program of monitoring indicator variables. Further, findings from the monitoring program suggest the extent to which standards of quality are being maintained, the success (or failure) of management practices, and whether levels and types of variables need to be adjusted. Without monitoring, the management cannot be adaptive and proactive because there would be no data. Insofar as there is diligent monitoring, there is thorough data. From there, the decisions will be more thoroughly derived and the results are going to be beneficial to visitors.


DiCicco, Jessica. 2014. “Long-Term Urban Park Ecological Restoration: A Case Study of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York”. Ecological Restoration. 32(3): 314-326.

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

Comment by Fenton Kay:

Good stuff, Mary. How long is long-term in your view? Should the monitoring program have an end-point or should it ramble on until a new program is established?

My Comment:

Good question. Long-term, in my view, should not have any endpoint. It should ramble on until a new program is established. A successful management program would lead to increased visitor use and increased management to sustain that visitor use. Due to that relationship between visitor use and management, the monitoring program should not have an end point because the management only needs to get stronger as time goes on. Since monitoring is essential to a quality management program, the monitoring program should not have an endpoint. Also, conditions change overtime. So, data that managers gathered from monitoring years or even months in the past is going to be different from current circumstances.

Comment by Fenton Kay:

Thanx, Mary. I agree with you in principle, but budgets in agencies at all levels almost always call for an end-date for a plan or project. So, it seems that you would, as a manager, have to come up with some deadline that also met the agency’s requirements/limits.

My Comment:

That makes a lot of sense. I now recall from the Project Management class I took for the EPM program that the budgeting was based upon the schedules and they always had to have end dates. A key component of the plan’s end date is to clarify that the project goals were achieved. The project managers and sponsors need to sign off on it at that given time. I would say that the end-date could be determined by the time when conditions are changed to meet the standards defined by the indicator-threshold framework.

Comment by Jenny Kelley:

Great post. Although I did not choose #14, your points are in line with my own thoughts on monitoring. Monitoring seems to be at the core of management in outdoor recreation management. Given that we are combining an ecosystem, inviting public to connect to that ecosystem during their visit, and the receptiveness of the public to do so, it is inevitable that impacts will happen The only way to measure and to practice good land stewardship is to monitor. Doing so give base line data, detects change, and is a good science-based method of observation.

My Comment:

I agree that monitoring is at the core of management in outdoor recreation management. Successful adaptive management cannot take place without monitoring. Gathering data about results from management tactics crucial to improving those tactics. Great point in saying that impacts are inevitable. Failing to have a monitoring system in place is ignoring the inevitable existence of those impacts. Further, refining the monitoring strategy can significantly enhance success in management.

I found a paper that focused on strategic elements for developing an effective adaptive monitoring network to support Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) in a multiuser nature reserve in the Dutch Wadden Sea Region (Vugteveen et al. 2015). The authors mentioned that there is wide recognition among scientists and resource managers that successful marine management approaches, including ICM, involve stakeholder participation, adaptive monitoring, and evaluation as basic components for effective strategies (Vugteveen et al. 2015). Further, the authors explained that is necessary to be aware of several major issues known to hinder monitoring effectiveness and efficiency. These include: selecting the wrong drivers for setting up monitoring, i.e., short term political demands rather than building a sound knowledge base; high ambition levels and resource constraints; and importantly, a poor initial design and a lack of clarity regarding goals and components (Vugteveen et al. 2015). From there, the authors explained how WaLTER, a project that aimed to integrate and improve existing monitoring programs, fills possible gaps in the current monitoring network and makes existing and new data more readily accessible (Vugteveen et al. 2015). The main product of the project is an online portal that makes monitoring data and information available and accessible for all stakeholders (Vugteveen et al. 2015). The creators of WaLTER definitely valued having a good science-based method of observation.


Vugteveen, P., Van Katwijk, M., Rouwette, E., Lenders, H., & Hanssen, L. 2015. “Developing an effective adaptive monitoring network to support integrated coastal management in a multiuser nature reserve”. Ecology and Society, 20(1). Accessed May 26, 2021.