Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Committee Chair/Advisor

Hallo, Jeffrey C.

Committee Member

Powell , Robert B.

Committee Member

Wright , Brett A.

Committee Member

English , William `Rockie'


Understanding the utility of space in natural area resources is of growing importance as recreation in these areas increases and availability of land remains stagnant. Space utility is of particular importance to multiple use forests which may have multiple recreation demands, minimum acceptable levels of biophysical impacts, sensitive ecological areas, and/or timber harvesting and mineral extraction strategies for the generation of revenue. In order to holistically consider space and protected area management, three factors must be better understood: a) methods and spatial analysis tools that can help with managerial and planning decisions, b) how space affects the relationship between use and experiential/biophysical impacts, and c) the need for the incorporation of spatially-related social science data.
Coupled social-ecological systems theory (SES) is an appropriate framework to foster a better understanding of how social dimensions (e.g., visitor travel patterns) affect natural resource impacts and how natural resources dimensions affect social systems. This dynamic and holistic management philosophy is a consequence of the complex relationships between spatiotemporal landscape factors and a natural interdependence of socio-cultural, economic, and biophysical variables. Additionally, the conflict and feedback between these variables can be better informed by spatial considerations. SES management is the process of balancing social, ecological, and economic systems. These systems often depend on the space and availability of resources. Spatial context can provide a mechanism for integrating the products of various social sciences fields, particularly when natural resources and physical processes of the landscape are involved.
Spatial mapping and GIS functions have been found to be an effective planning tool when claims for different functions exceed the amount of available land. Critical to a balanced SES management model are site-specific spatial data of the use by and distribution of visitors, yet these data are often unavailable. This may be due to the difficultly of obtaining site-specific spatial social data and the difficulty of integrating social science data into GIS-based planning models.
This dissertation demonstrates the importance and value of considering space in extending the theoretical understanding of visitor travel patterns and the impacts of visitor distribution on natural resources. This dissertation also explores and refines methods for the incorporation of spatially-related social science data. Together, the three manuscripts below foster a better understanding of how visitor distributions impact natural resources, how natural resources impact visitor distribution, and how these factors interact.



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