Skip to Main Content
Capacity reconsidered: Finding consensus and clarifying differencesAuthor(s): Doug Whittaker; Bo Shelby; Robert Manning; David Cole; Glenn Haas
Source: Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. 29(1): 1-19.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (485.11 KB)
DescriptionIn a world where populations and resource demands continue to grow, there is a long history of concern about the "capacity" of the environment to support human uses, including timber, rangelands, fish and wildlife, and recreation. In the context of recreation, work on visitor capacities has evolved considerably since the late 1960s as a result of environmental planning, court proceedings, recreation management practice, and recreation research. This paper documents the "state-of-knowledge" understanding of capacity among our group of long-term professionals, who represent a wide range of experience and perspectives. The paper defines capacity as "the amount and type of use that is compatible with the management prescription for an area," and elaborates on the elements of that definition. The main body of the paper describes 34 agreements about the larger planning context, the definition of capacity, benefits of capacity, indicators and standards, and the roles of these concepts in resource planning and management. The final section identifies issues needing resolution, including four "differences we resolved" and five "differences that remain", and also includes our individual perspectives on these issues. This paper is not the "definitive statement," on visitor capacity, and we trust others will contribute to this on-going dialogue as agencies, the courts, academics, and resource professionals work to resolve capacity issues. We hope our work adds clarity, advances understanding, helps guide application of efforts designed to address capacity, and encourages others to contribute their ideas.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationWhittaker, Doug; Shelby, Bo; Manning, Robert; Cole, David; Haas, Glenn. 2011. Capacity reconsidered: Finding consensus and clarifying differences. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. 29(1): 1-19.
Keywordsvisitor capacity, carrying capacity, recreation planning, use limits
- Capacity reconsidered: Finding consensus and clarifying differences
- Igniting research for outdoor recreation: linking science, policy, and action
- Chapter 6: Nature, outdoor experiences, and human health
XML: View XML