USDA Forest Service
 

Pacific Southwest Research Station

 

Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

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Research Topics

Recreation: Changing Research Patterns

^ Main Topic | Changing Recreation Patterns | Communication | Social Aspects of Fire | Behaviors and Conflict

Outdoor Recreation Research in Canyons Proximate to the San Dimas Experimental Forest

Dr. Deborah J. Chavez
David D. Olson
Pacific Southwest Research Station
It is important to examine use of outdoor recreation sites in the wildland-urban interface and get visitor points of view about those sites. Of particular importance are day use recreation sites, which receive a large amount of use but little research emphasis. The following reports results from two day use visitor contact studies conducted on the Angeles National Forest in summers 2003-04. The survey is a replication of the day use studies conducted on National Forests in southern California from 1992-94, 2000-03. The purpose was to provide to managers information based on day use visitor opinions. Topics addressed included visitor characteristics, visitation patterns, activity patterns, interpretation, communication and information patterns, importance of site attributes and other visitor perceptions.

As part of the larger study, day use sites were randomly selected for inclusion in the study. Dates of data collection were randomly selected from various days during the week throughout the summer months. From this data set we have identified data from visitors to the canyons surrounding San Dimas Experimental Forest - the San Gabriel Canyon and the San Antonio Canyon. Data were collected from 82 recreationists in the San Gabriel Canyon and 49 recreationists in the San Antonio Canyon. Our purpose here is to describe outdoor recreation visitation to canyons proximate to the San Dimas Experimental Forest in southern California.

San Gabriel Canyon

Responses are provided in the form of percentages and are reported for the 82 respondents at recreation sites located in the San Gabriel Canyon (East Fork open space, West-North Fork Confluence, SGC OHV Staging area, and Oaks Picnic Area). Though the dates and sites were randomly selected, they were selected as part of the larger study.

Photographer: USDAFS, Location: San Gabriel Canyon, West-North Fork Confluence, Subject: three children playing in streamOverall results indicate San Gabriel Canyon visitors were typically of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin (73%), were U.S.-born (though 46% said they were born elsewhere), tend to be female, average 33 years of age and 12 years of education.

Most San Gabriel Canyon day use visitors were recreating with family and friends, visit for more than four hours, were repeat visitors, and planned to return to sites in the San Gabriel Canyon. While there the typical visitor were picnicking and barbecuing, on off-highway vehicle rides, and stream playing, though their favorite activities were camping and off-highway vehicle rides.

Photographer: USDAFS, Location: San Gabriel Canyon, OHV Staging Area, Subject: people tailgating on trailer in parking lotDay use visitors had great interest in informational talks given by Angeles National Forest employees. Most heard about the San Gabriel Canyon from word-of mouth sources (typically family and friends). Preferred sources of on-site information included brochures, signs along the road and postings on bulletin boards. Day use visitors wanted more information about the best times to visit to avoid crowds, safety, other picnic/barbecue areas, and camping in the area.

Preferred site attributes included trash cans, telephones, water faucets, parking areas, picnic tables, cooking grills, and law enforcement and patrols. They also preferred easy to walk trails that took about 15 minutes to hike. Day use visitors were bothered by problems such as litter on roads and picnic sites, drawing and graffiti on natural and man-made structures. Overall, most day use visitors planned to tell others about their trip, wanted to return to the San Gabriel Canyon again, and had a great recreation experience.

San Antonio Canyon

Responses are provided in the form of percentages and are reported for the 49 respondents at recreation sites located in the San Antonio Canyon (San Antonio Canyon open space and the Manker Flat Trailhead). Though the dates and sites were randomly selected, they were selected as part of the larger study.

Photographer: USDAFS, Location: San Antonio Canyon, Lower San Antonio Canyon open space, Subject: view of trees and streamOverall results indicate San Antonio Canyon visitors were typically of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin (67%), were U.S.-born, tend to be male, average 36 years of age and 15 years of education.

Most San Antonio Canyon day use visitors were recreating with family and friends, visit for one to three hours, were first time visitors, and planned to return to sites in the San Antonio Canyon. While there the typical visitors were day hiking, camping, stream playing, and picnicking and barbecuing.

Photographer: USDAFS, Location: San Antonio Canyon, San Antonio Canyon TH at Manker Flats, Subject: view of trailheadDay use visitors had great interest in informational talks given by Angeles National Forest employees. Most heard about the San Antonio Canyon from word-of mouth sources (typically family and friends). Preferred sources of on-site information included postings on bulletin boards, brochures, and signs along the road. Day use visitors wanted more information about the best times to visit to avoid crowds, hiking, and camping in the area.

Preferred site attributes included trash cans, parking areas, water faucets, and telephones. They also preferred somewhat challenging trails that took a few hours to hike. Day use visitors were bothered by problems such as litter on roads and picnic sites, drawing and graffiti on natural and man-made structures. Overall, most day use visitors planned to tell others about their trip, wanted to return to the San Antonio Canyon again, and had a great recreation experience.

Conclusions

Though there were several socio-demographic differences between visitors to the two canyons (e.g., more males in San Antonio Canyon), there were few differences on other measures. Respondents from both samples were recreating with family and friends, and planned to return to outdoor recreation sites in the respective canyons. Typical activities on-site included picnicking and barbecuing, and stream playing. The demographics indicate a mostly Latino clientele for the two canyons, suggesting multiple languages (English & Spanish) in communications, which will enhance outreach to those groups at outdoor recreation day use sites.

There are many opportunities to communicate with forest visitors on-site ranging from ranger-led activities to brochures with information on area sites and features. Communication preferences on-site were similar between the samples. Most respondents from both samples had great interest in informational talks given by Angeles National Forest employees. Topics of interest included animals and their habitats, local mountain history, camping in the area, hiking in the area, and more. Most heard about the canyon from word-of mouth sources (typically family and friends). Preferred sources of on-site information included brochures, signs along the road, and postings on bulletin boards. These day use canyon visitors wanted more information about the best times to visit to avoid crowds and camping in the area.

Development preferences results suggest there were particular facilities and amenities that were desired by these outdoor recreation visitors, and a focus on these will be beneficial to the Forest and the visitors. There were similar preferences for site attributes, including trash cans, telephones, water faucets, and parking areas. These day use visitors were bothered by problems such as litter on roads and picnic sites, drawing and graffiti on natural and man-made structures. Attention to issues that bother recreation day use visitors will further enhance their visits to the Angeles National Forest.

Overall, most of these visitors planned to tell others about their trip, wanted to return to the respective canyon again, and had a great recreation experience.

For additional information about this study please contact Debbie Chavez at 951-680-1558 or Employee E-mail Address Image.

Research conducted by:
Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 03:34:01 PM