USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics

Recreation: Social Aspects of Fire

Fire Research in Fireprone Areas: The Big Sur Region

Funded by the National Fire Plan, this is the second study with California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo to examine outdoor recreation use in the Big Sur region. We were interested in learning the opinions about fire and fire management from visitors to Big Sur. Data were collected from 431 outdoor recreation visitors.

The majority of respondents were male, white, married, about 39 years of age, with an average 16 years of education. Most respondents were at the Big Sur sites with family members and friends. The median group size was four. Most respondents were on overnight camping trips. The average number of nights spent in the Big Sur region was three. The vast majority of respondents were on repeat visits to the Big Sur region. The median number of visits in a 12-month period was one. Most visitors were hiking, walking for pleasure, sightseeing, wild/marine life viewing, and picnicking. Continuing to provide these services for recreation visitors is very important.

Managers will need to consider potential barriers to outdoor recreation as identified by the respondents. Those barriers perceived as most influential to future visitation were fires that were out of control. The top barriers were a fire started by arson that is uncontrolled, a fire started by logging operations that is out of control, a fire started by an unextinguished campfire that is out of control, a prescribed fire that has escaped and is out of control, and a fire started by natural causes (lightning) that is out of control. Decreased air quality from wildland/prescribed fire smoke and traffic delays due to fire suppression activities were also barriers of importance to many respondents. Others thought that restrictions on fire pits or on cooking grills in developed campgrounds and picnic areas would be an important or extreme barrier. Many respondents considered closures of developed campgrounds, trails, and picnic areas to be barriers to future visits. Lesser barriers were prescribed fires set intentionally for ecological benefit or fires started by natural causes (lightning) that are allowed to burn for ecological reasons.

Research conducted by:
Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 11:04:11 AM