Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Jordan W. Smith


Jordan W. Smith


Mark Brunson


Peter D. Howe


Zachary D. Miller


Derek van Berkel


Social media platforms allow people to post photos, text, and video clips that include embedded information about the geographic location, time, and date that of the posts. Recently, researchers have utilized these data to study outdoor recreation management. In particular, geotagged social media posts can be used to understand outdoor recreation behavior and visitation patterns on public lands. Consequently, it can be used to inform the decisions of agencies and organizations that manage recreational uses of public land. I conducted three studies to explore the ways social media information can help provide recreation managers with a better understanding of visitor use. First, I tracked the locations of recreation users’ social media posts to describe how their visits are distributed across the public lands in the state of Utah (USA). Next,I combined social media data with a tool that recreation managers often use called the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS), proposing a way to improve the ROS so it can be used to proactively guide management actions at different spatial scales. Finally, I convened workshops with recreation managers, business owners, and government leaders to if and how social media can be used to inform decisions about recreation management within Utah. In sum this dissertation presents the variety of ways social media can be used to measure, map, and manage outdoor recreation on public lands.