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Parks and People

Managing Outdoor Recreation at Acadia National Park

Robert E. Manning

Publication Year: 2009

Parks and People describes fifteen years of research at Maine's Acadia National Park, conducted by Robert E. Manning, his colleagues, and students. The book is organized into three parts. Part I addresses indicators and standards of quality for park resources and the visitor experience. Part II describes efforts to monitor indicator variables. Part III outlines and assesses management actions designed to maintain standards of quality. The book concludes with a discussion of the implications of this program of natural and social science research, including a series of principles for outdoor recreation management at Acadia and other parks.

Published by: University of Vermont Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Visits to the U.S. national parks total nearly 300 million annually. Over two million visits per year are accommodated at Acadia National Park alone. While we should celebrate the popularity of national parks as a clear reflection of the enjoyment they generate and their importance in society, this..


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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction: Outdoor Recreation Research and Management at Acadia National Park

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pp. 1-14

Managing national parks and related areas presents both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities include protecting the substantial natural, cultural, and recreational values of these areas, and providing for public enjoyment and appreciation of these special places. Challenges include optimizing...

Part I: Indicators and Standards of Quality

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pp. 15-16

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1. Visitor Use of Acadia National Park

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pp. 34-21

Who are park visitors? Where are they from? Why do they visit the national parks? What do they do in the parks? What do visitors think are the most important management issues in the national parks? Visitor Services Project (VSP) studies are designed to help answer these and related questions...

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2. Standards of Quality in Parks and Outdoor Recreation

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pp. 22-29

Parks are increasingly important in modern society. They protect vital natural and cultural resources and enhance the quality of life by providing opportunities for outdoor recreation to an expanding population. But can parks continue to be successful as they attract more and more visitors? This...

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3. Indicators and Standards of Quality for the Schoodic Peninsula

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pp. 30-40

The Schoodic Peninsula of Maine includes an outlying unit of Acadia National Park and is located about an hour’s drive north of the main MDI portion of the park. The park’s General Management Plan (GMP) states that opportunities for “low-density” recreation should be maintained at the Schoodic...

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4. Indicators and Standards of Quality for Trail and Campsite Conditions at Isle au Haut

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pp. 41-52

This chapter describes the results of visitor impact assessment research conducted at Isle au Haut, a small island (6,700 acres) and outlying unit of Acadia located 15 miles southwest of Mount Desert Island (Marion 2007). The NPS owns 2,700 acres on the island, including five camping shelters...

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5. Indicators of Quality for the Visitor Experience on Ocean Drive

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pp. 53-68

Automobiles are both a form of transportation to and through national parks and a mechanism for experiencing these areas. Park visitors use automobiles to access attraction sites or to travel to a location to participate in an activity. However, studies consistently have shown that large numbers of...

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6. Research to Guide Trail Management at Acadia National Park

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pp. 69-78

Acadia includes approximately 120 miles of trails, and hiking is one of the most popular recreation activities in the park (Littlejohn 1999). The popularity of the trail system presents a challenge to park staff in their efforts to protect trails from unacceptable visitor impacts, such as soil compaction...

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7. Indicators and Standards of Quality across Space and Time

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pp. 79-89

Acadia includes several iconic attractions, including Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, and Thunder Hole, that attract thousands of visitors on peak-season days. Also within the park are several lesser-known and less-visited sites, such as Acadia Mountain and Little Hunter’s Beach. During peak season, these...

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8. Do Parks Make Good Neighbors?: Community Residents’ Perceptions of Acadia National Park

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pp. 90-93

Many of America’s national parks have become islands of nature in a sea of civilization. Development of land around parks has raised a variety of management issues, including air and water pollution that flow into the parks, limited range for wildlife, increasing demand for recreation opportunities...

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9. Design and Assessment of Transportation Systems on Mount Desert Island

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pp. 94-99

This chapter explores transportation issues at Acadia and Mount Desert Island (MDI) from the standpoint of managers of businesses in the gateway communities of Acadia. The research was based on an evaluation of a field operational test (FOT) of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) on MDI...

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10. Crowding in Parks and Outdoor Recreation

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pp. 100-108

Crowding is a perennial issue in parks and other outdoor recreation locations. Research at Acadia suggests that visitors and residents of surrounding communities are concerned about crowding in the form of traffic congestion, lack of parking, and encounters with other groups on trails and...

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11. Crowding, Conflict, and Coping in Outdoor Recreation

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pp. 109-121

As noted in the previous chapter, crowding and conflict are long-standing and challenging issues in outdoor recreation. As the number and diversity of visitors to parks and outdoor recreation areas has risen over the past several decades, so has concern over the potential effects of these trends on...

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12. Use of Visual Research Methods to Measure Standards of Quality for Parks and Outdoor Recreation

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pp. 122-133

Visual research methods offer a potentially important research approach to measuring normative standards of quality in parks and outdoor recreation, and they offer several potential advantages over narrative and numerical descriptions of park and outdoor recreation conditions that have been used...

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13. Alternative Measurement Approaches for Normative Standards of Crowding in Parks and Outdoor Recreation

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pp. 134-147

As research on normative standards for crowding and other impacts of outdoor recreation has proceeded, several approaches to measuring norms have evolved. Moreover, several issues surrounding norm measurement and application also have arisen. The purposes of the study described in this...

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14. What’s Behind the Numbers?: Qualitative Insights into Normative Research in Outdoor Recreation

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pp. 148-162

Conventional studies of normative standards of quality in outdoor recreation rely on quantitative research methods as described in previous chapters. While these studies derive measures of acceptability (or other evaluative dimensions), they may not inform researchers or managers of potentially...

Part II Monitoring

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pp. 163-164

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15. Monitoring Recreation Visits to Acadia National Park

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pp. 165-168

One of the most fundamental indicators for analyzing and managing outdoor recreation is the number of visits that are accommodated in a park or related area. Visits are at least an approximation of the level of public enjoyment or satisfaction that is generated, as well as the resource and...

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16. Design and Implementation of a Monitoring Plan for the Carriage Roads

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pp. 169-174

Application of the Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP) framework to the Acadia carriage roads resulted in a series of indicators and standards of quality for the visitor experience (Jacobi and Manning 1997). (Research supporting formulation of these indicators and standards...

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17. Computer Simulation Modeling as a Monitoring Tool for the Carriage Roads

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pp. 175-184

Growing popularity of outdoor recreation is challenging researchers and managers as they attempt to protect park resources and the quality of the visitor experience. One important issue is the complexity of trail and other travel systems in parks and related areas. Little research has been aimed at...

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18. Monitoring and Assessing Trail Conditions at Acadia National Park

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pp. 185-195

Trails are vital in parks and related areas, because hiking is a popular recreation activity and trails provide access to destinations of interest to both visitors and managers. Therefore, maintaining trails in good condition is important. While various forms of trail hardening and surfacing can enhance...

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19. Monitoring Visitor Impacts on Cadillac Mountain Using Remote Sensing

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pp. 196-201

Contemporary park and outdoor recreation management frameworks such as VERP rely on a long-term program of monitoring. Monitoring is focused on indicators of quality that serve as the proxies for management objectives and desired resource and experiential conditions in parks and related areas...

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20. Monitoring Parking Lot Conditions to Assess the Effectiveness of Alternative Transportation and Travel Information Technologies at Acadia National Park

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pp. 202-212

Many of the most popular attractions in Acadia such as Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, and Jordan Pond House experience parking problems. In addition to anecdotal information on parking conditions from park staff and visitors, parking was identified as a long-standing problem in the park’s...

Part III: Management

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pp. 213-214

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21. Managing Visitor Impacts on Cadillac Mountain

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pp. 215-239

An accumulating body of research dating back several decades has documented the variety and severity of environmental impacts that visitors can have on parks, including trampling of fragile vegetation, soil compaction and erosion, water pollution, and disturbance of wildlife (Hammitt and...

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22. Using Computer Simulation Modeling to Support Management of Social Carrying Capacity of Ocean Drive

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pp. 240-255

Most visitors to the MDI portion of Acadia use the Park Loop Road to experience the park and access the area’s major attractions. The Ocean Drive section of the Park Loop Road starts immediately after the park entrance station and closely follows the coastline for 1.5 miles. Ocean Drive is managed...

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23. A Comparative Study of Tradeoffs among Trail Attributes at Acadia National Park

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pp. 256-266

The contemporary concepts of carrying capacity and sustainability require managers of national parks and related areas to provide opportunities for high-quality visitor experiences while protecting natural environments from visitor-caused impacts. National parks and related areas are the attractions...

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24. A Stated-Choice Analysis of Visitor Preferences on Cadillac Mountain

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pp. 267-276

As noted in earlier chapters, the summit of Cadillac Mountain is a principal visitor attraction at Acadia. This intensive visitor use coupled with a management policy that allows visitors to roam freely and explore the summit has resulted in a substantial loss of vegetation and soils on the mountain...

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25. Assessing the Effectiveness of Intelligent Transportation System Technology to Manage Visitor Use at Acadia National Park

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pp. 277-286

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are a combination of information technologies applied to the management of ground transportation and the provision of travel information to outdoor recreation visitors (Sheldon 1997). An ITS can include many different technologies but those most relevant...

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26. An Experiment in Park Traffic Patterns on the Acadia National Park Loop Road

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pp. 287-290

How many times have you heard it said that there aren’t too many people in the national parks, but too many cars? Traffic congestion has become a perennial problem in the parks. There are a number of potential solutions to the problem, including use limits, automobile entrance or parking fees, and...

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Conclusion: Managing Parks and People

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pp. 291-308

The preceding chapters present a wide-ranging program of research designed to support management of outdoor recreation at Acadia. These studies address the primary geographic units of the park, including Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula, and Isle au Haut; principal visitor attractions...

References Cited

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pp. 309-330


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pp. 331-336

E-ISBN-13: 9781584658818
E-ISBN-10: 1584658819
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584657910

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Outdoor recreation -- Research -- Case studies.
  • Outdoor recreation -- Environmental aspects -- Maine -- Acadia National Park -- Management.
  • Acadia National Park (Me.) -- Management.
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