Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Christopher Monz


Christopher Monz


Zachary Miller


Abigail Sisneros-Kidd


Wayne Freimund


Urban-proximate parks and protected areas provide a unique recreation landscape to individuals living in and near urban centers. They have been shown to provide similar recreation experiences to traditionally studied parks and protected areas such as National Parks, National Forests and Wilderness areas. This study takes place in a set of four urban-proximate parks in Orange County, California, USA. These parks are designated as urban-proximate because they are located within 100 miles of an urban center with 1 million or more people. Using norm theory, a well vetted social science theory, this work sought to identify thresholds of acceptability for five social and ecological resource conditions; people at one time, bikes at one time (both a measure of crowding index), informal trail proliferation, recreation preferences for trail width and trail width as recreation impact. Using the recreation preference literature, we identified four visitor characteristics that may be influencing normative evaluations; gender, race, recreation activity type and local ecological knowledge. These four categories were then tested against the five resource conditions to test their influence on resource condition evaluations.

Chapter 1 will provide an overview of the existing literature pertaining to urban-proximate parks, diverse recreation visitation and the application of normative theory in the field of recreation research management. Chapter 2 is the first manuscript within this thesis which establishes evaluations and thresholds for the five aforementioned resource conditions and is formatted for submission to Landscape and Urban Planning. Chapter 3 is the second manuscript which identifies potential influential factors for these normative evaluations in order to provide managers with more detail on the evaluations of specific visitors. This chapter is formatted for submission to the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. Lastly, Chapter 4 will conclude with a discussion and reflection on this research and the contributions it makes to the literature.