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Monitoring visitor use in parks and protected areas (PPAs) provides essential information for managers of PPAs to evaluate aspects of the visitor experience and balance the ecological disturbance that use creates. Traditional methods for quantifying visitation and spatial use of PPAs are resource intensive and thus are conducted infrequently or at cost-effective intervals which may fail to capture the dynamic nature of modern visitor use trends. This paper provides an addition to a growing literature using mobile-device data to quantify visitation and spatial density of use of urban-proximate PPAs in Orange County, California, USA using the analysis platform Streetlight, Inc. The results of our analysis compared favorably with well-established automatic trail counting and GPS-based monitoring methods, and illustrate several advantages of mobile device data to inform the management of PPAs. Mobile device data provide reliable estimates of visitation and spatial density of use and can augment and compliment existing social and resource monitoring for PPA management and planning.
Noah E. Creany, Christopher A. Monz, Ashley D’Antonio, Abigail Sisneros-Kidd, Emily J. Wilkins, Jordan Nesbitt, Milan Mitrovich, Estimating trail use and visitor spatial distribution using mobile device data: An example from the nature reserve of orange county, California USA, Environmental Challenges, Volume 4, 2021, 100171, ISSN 2667-0100, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envc.2021.100171.