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Does oil and gas development impact recreation visits to public lands? A cross-sectional analysis of overnight recreation site use at 27 national forests with oil and gas development

Posted date: November 19, 2018
Publication Year: 
2018
Authors: Rasch, Rebecca; Reeves, Matt C.; Sorenson, Colin
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism. 24: 45-51.

Abstract

Drawing on national forest visitor use data from 722 overnight use recreation sites across 27 National Forests with oil and gas development, this work examines whether the presence of oil and gas development within five kilometers of an overnight recreation site affects site visitation. Findings suggest that sites within five kilometers of oil and gas wells see less visitation, compared to sites farther away from wells. While this work does not attempt to speculate on the overall user experience, it does suggest that the presence of oil and gas development may have a significant enough effect on the user experience to motivate some users to recreate elsewhere. On average, each additional oil or gas well within a five-kilometer radius is related to a decline in six visits to the site, on an annual basis. Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) model results suggest that the effect of oil and gas wells on overnight site visitation varies across the nation and is statistically significant in western states but not significant in eastern states, possibly due to differing expectations for pristine recreation settings. Management implication:

  • This research finds that overnight use recreation sites within five kilometers of oil and gas wells see less visitation, compared to sites farther away from wells.
  • On average, each additional oil or gas well within a five-kilometer radius is related to a decline in six visits to the site, on an annual basis.
  • Managers tasked with analyzing potential impacts of oil and gas development on recreational uses can apply these findings directly into social impact analyses by carefully considering the real potential for declines in visitation and the associated drop in recreation fees available to local district managers for recreation resource maintenance and stewardship.

Citation

Rasch, Rebecca; Reeves, Matt; Sorenson, Colin. 2018. Does oil and gas development impact recreation visits to public lands? A cross-sectional analysis of overnight recreation site use at 27 national forests with oil and gas development. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism. 24: 45-51.