Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Sean E. Michael


Sean E. Michael


Michael L. Timmons


Steven W. Burr


Dispersed recreation management is a form of management that has emerged over the past century of outdoor recreation management on public lands in the United States. Techniques used in dispersed recreation management seek to disperse recreation use, recreational areas, and their impacts across landscapes and ecosystems or to concentrate such use to areas that remain undeveloped. This study is a mixed-methods, descriptive study of dispersed recreation management on national forest lands. In particular, this study focuses on United States Forest Service (USFS) management Concentrated Use Areas (CUAs) on Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (UWCNF), as identified in the 2003 Revised Forest Plan of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. A qualitative approach of inventorying past management actions, observing CUAs, and interviewing recreation managers and resource specialists on the UWCNF was used. The qualitative aspects of this study were also coupled with a quantitative analysis of Geographic Positioning System (GPS) based data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to better understand characteristics of CUAs and their management in dispersed recreation settings.

Overall, this study draws many conclusions involving the definition of, and management and design solutions for CUAs. CUAs can be described as easily accessible, flat areas adjacent to roads, with good access to water, and shade. These areas are often used for camping of various types, with trailers and groups being a predominant use. ATVs and motorized use are also associated with these areas. Use is generally considered high and continual during the summer season, with sites often being used year after year by families and groups of friends. Loss of vegetation, soil compaction, and soil erosion are common impacts attributed to concentrated recreational use.

Another finding was that recreation resource managers and resource specialists have similar views of what CUAs are and how they are managed. Management actions generally consist of both indirect and direct management actions focused on limiting environmental impacts caused by recreation uses. Management actions are conducted on both large and small scales within districts, and dispersed recreation protocol was found that called on management to reduce biophysical impacts. However, management techniques lack official targets and metrics for measuring the success of management. Design is also a component of CUA management. The design of CUAs generally consists of adapting user-created recreation areas into more structured and defined areas.