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RMRS-RP-63: Changes in the motivations, perceptions, and behaviors of recreation users: Displacement and coping in wilderness


Hall, Troy E.; Cole, David N. 2007. Changes in the motivations, perceptions, and behaviors of recreation users: Displacement and coping in wilderness. Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-63. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 37 p.

We describe how wilderness visitors perceive changes in wilderness use, impacts, and management. We examine how visitors have responded to change, both behaviorally and cognitively. The study was based on a sample of visitors to 19 Forest Service wildernesses in Oregon and Washington. Many respondents said the types of wilderness trips they take have changed since their earlier wilderness trips. Most perceived adverse change. Use has increased (particularly day use), resulting in crowding and a widespread sense that these places seem less like wilderness than they did in the past. Most of these visitors learned to cope with these adverse changes by either adjusting the way they think about these places or by adjusting their behavior. Cognitive coping, particularly rationalization, is very common. Most visitors do not consider changing conditions to be very problematic, probably because their coping mechanisms are successful. This explains lack of support for management actions that restrict access. Very few visitors cannot cope with crowded conditions. Displacement of visitors away from crowded places does not seem prevalent enough for concern about increased crowding and biophysical impact in places in wilderness that are currently lightly used or the validity of on-site visitor surveys.

Keywords: crowding, recreation experiences, substitutability, visitor management, visitor surveys, wilderness management, wilderness recreation


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Title: RMRS-RP-63: Changes in the motivations, perceptions, and behaviors of recreation users: Displacement and coping in wilderness
Electronic Publish Date: April 12, 2007
Last Update:
April 12, 2007

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