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Carrying capacity & visitor experience: Cape Hatteras National SeashoreAuthor(s): Jason A. Strother; Hans Vogelsong
Source: In: Schuster, Rudy, comp., ed. Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-302. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 229-233
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Northeastern Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (323.63 KB)
DescriptionThe number of people living the United States is expected to increase by 63 million by the year 2025, bringing the total population to over 300 million. As population size increases, recreation and park managers can expect to experience an increase in the number of visitors/users. In 2000, the National Park Service recorded nearly 300 million visitors throughout the national park system. Cape Hatteras National Seashore over the past 40 years has recorded a 1200% increase in visitation. Statistics from the first half of 2001 reveal a 29% increase in visitation when compared to the first half of 2000. Located on protected barrier islands in North Carolina, Cape Hatteras National Seashore consists of more than 70 miles of shoreline and 30,000 acres that serve as a notable tourist and recreation destination. As population and park visitation increases, protecting these destinations, and the resources and experiences they provide are of major importance to recreation and park managers. Current and accurate information is needed to better understand the influence of crowding and carrying capacity on park resources and visitor experiences. The purpose of this research is to determine social carrying capacity based on selected variables at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and to the existing body of literature. A sample of 300 onsite and mail-back questionnaires of visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore conducted during a yearlong study, spanning from May 2001 to May 2002 was analyzed. The purpose of this study focuses on issues of social carrying capacity and comprehending visitor perceptions and expectations of crowding in relation to how the number of people on the beach influence the quality of visitor experience. Visitor standards toward encountering other visitors as well as their perceptions of current use levels, if a relationship exists between crowd sizes expectations and selected crowding variables, and to compare visitor's perceived crowding levels with actual visitor density. Analysis and discussion will focus on the relationships between visitor norms/preferences and actual density and encounter levels. Analysis and discussion will focus on the relationships between visitor norms/preferences and actual density and encounter levels. Researchers and managers can use this information to assess current and changing social conditions regarding visitor experiences. Results will specifically assist NPS managers in making appropriate management decisions, maintaining standards of quality, and will add to the existing body of literature regarding social carrying capacity.
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CitationStrother, Jason A.; Vogelsong, Hans. 2003. Carrying capacity & visitor experience: Cape Hatteras National Seashore. In: Schuster, Rudy, comp., ed. Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-302. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 229-233
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