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    Author(s): David N. Cole
    Date: 2013
    Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-300. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 99 p.
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (5.0 MB)


    This report brings together seven case studies of trends in the number and condition of wilderness campsites over periods ranging from 13 to 32 years. Case examples come from five mountainous wilderness areas in the western United States: Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness in California, the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon, the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the Selway-Bitterroot and Lee Metcalf Wilderness in Montana, as well as Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Caney Creek Wilderness in Arkansas. The case studies used two different research designs. In one design, small samples of campsites were selected and studied in detail, making it possible to detect relatively small changes in condition. The other approach involved inventorying all campsites in an area and collecting rudimentary data on the condition of each campsite. This approach provides insight into landscape-scale change in the number and condition of campsites but the relatively imprecise measures of campsite conditions do not provide reliable information on campsite change at the scale of individual sites. Most of these studies suggest that aggregate campsite impact increased for much of the latter twentieth century, but that by the first decade of the twenty-first century, this trend reversed. Campsite impacts have recently plateaued or declined in most wildernesses in this compilation. In the most extreme cases, campsite improvement reflects (1) successful implementation of a use concentration or containment strategy, and (2) an active wilderness ranger program, involving obliteration of unnecessary or poorly located campsites and maintenance and cleaning of established campsites.

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    Cole, David N. 2013. Changing conditions on wilderness campsites: Seven case studies of trends over 13 to 32 years. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-300. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 99 p.


    campsite impact, recreation impact, wilderness management

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