Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Jordan W. Smith (Committee Chair), Christopher A. Monz (Committee Co-Chair)


Jordan W. Smith


Christopher A. Monz


Ashley D'Antonio


Where visitors go in parks and protected areas has effects on environmental, social, and economic conditions. As visitation to these areas increases, understanding the means by which visitors move around parks and protected areas, like shuttle buses and trails, and their respective effects is important to provide the best management practice. The first chapter of this thesis examines the wide-ranging effects of alternative transportation systems, like shuttle buses, on environmental, social, and economic conditions in parks and protected areas managed by the National Park Service. The second chapter of this thesis takes a closer look at informal, or unofficial, trail networks in an urban-proximate protected area, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, in the mountain west state of Utah.

Visitation to parks and protected areas has rapidly increased in the last decade. The predominant use of private vehicles to access these areas has led to concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, contributions to climate change, traffic congestion, and overflowing parking lots. Managers have attempted to mitigate concerns about large numbers of private vehicles in select areas using alternative transportation systems like shuttle buses. The effects of these systems are not holistically understood; the first part of this research therefore provides a comprehensive understanding of the effects of alternative transportation systems on environmental, social, and economic conditions in national parks.

Beyond roads and parking lots, increasing use results in consequences to the natural environment such as degradation of trail systems and the formation of unofficial trail networks. This is of particular concern in urban-proximate parks and protected areas because it can have negative impacts on the environments many people like to visit. The second part of this research uses field assessments, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and statistical methods to illustrate and provide management suggestions for the extensive unofficial trail networks in an urban-proximate protected area in Utah.



Available for download on Sunday, August 01, 2027