• Planning for positive outcomes: testing methods for measuring outdoor recreation preferences on public lands

      Wright, Roger Bryant; Fix, Peter J.; Little, Joseph M.; Dodge, Kathryn (2019-08)
      Outcomes-Focused Management is based on the idea of four levels of demand for recreation: demand for recreation activities, recreation settings, recreation experiences, and lasting benefits of recreation. Public lands can provide the setting, and thus the opportunity for people to engage in meaningful outdoor recreation activities to realize desired experiences and lasting benefits. Implementation of this management framework requires identifying desired outcomes and understanding how management of public lands recreation settings affects visitors' ability to realize them. This thesis addresses the two tasks. The Fairbanks Community Recreation Study investigated current methods of identifying demands for different types of recreation trips, revealing two key shortcomings. First, demand studies often rely solely on activity participation data and thus fail to account for latent demand and desires for meaningful experiences and benefits. Second, data from demand studies are either too general to be useful in site management, or too specific to one site to account for the range of needs within a community. An online survey was developed to characterize salient and latent demands for outdoor recreation in the context of the greater Fairbanks, Alaska community. A unique survey format allowed respondents to describe their hypothetical "ideal" outdoor recreation trips, the required setting characteristics, and what actual places in the region might realistically provide such a trip. Trip profiles yielded a typology of desired recreation for the region. By connecting these types of trips to real places, local land managers can identify which demands they are uniquely equipped to provide for and how to better cater to latent demands. To address the task of measuring the effectiveness of outcomes-focused management practices, an exploratory factor analysis was conducted on data from 13 recreation benefits surveys collected at recreation areas in three western states. Factor structures among individual studies converged on two primary domains of Personal Benefits of recreation and Community Benefits from recreation, each containing a number of potential subdimensions. By identifying latent factors of the recreation benefits construct the study brings research closer to developing and validating a survey instrument to measure lasting beneficial recreation outcomes to individuals and their communities.