National Park Service Coastal visitor impact monitoring Phase 2 project repor

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A preliminary examination of the feasibility of assessing Coastal Visitor Impacts.

A comprehensive investigation on the applicability, scope and design of a visitor impact monitoring program was conducted at nine coastal areas (seven park units) managed by the National Park Service. This effort in visitor impact monitoring is under the auspices of the Coastal and Barrier Islands Monitoring Network and part of a comprehensive Vital Signs program of monitoring the health of coastal natural resources.

Based on site visits and manager interviews, visitor impacts were found to be a significant threat and management concern at the majority of network parks. Major network-wide impact commonalities include trampling impacts to vegetation and soils, wildlife impacts, impacts related to off-road vehicle use, and trash. Park specific impact problems and monitoring needs were identified through dialogue with staff in each park. Visitor impacts in four park units were found to be less significant and do not warrant further investigation at this time.

Vital signs of visitor impact were selected using both a conceptual model approach to highlight ecological significance and by ranking proposed vital signs based on thirteen important criteria. It is recommended that procedures for a total of ten Vital Sign indicators be developed for application at five of the network areas (four park units) over the next year.

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