A Multi-Phase, Mixed-Method Regional Analysis of Lake and Reservoir Based Recreational Opportunities in Utah

William S. Spain, Utah State University

This work made publicly available electronically on October 30, 2012.


Planning and managing outdoor recreational resources at larger spatial scales, conceptualized as a regional approach to recreation planning and management, is studied. Considering and understanding the role of spatial scale has been beneficial to the field of ecology; however, the importance of spatial scale has rarely been considered in the recreation resource management literature. A regional approach to planning and management is differentiated from a site-specific approach as managers and planners must consider the implications of management actions or policies at a larger spatial scale than a single park, recreation area, lake, or reservoir. For this study, the provision of boating opportunities at Utah lakes and reservoirs is considered. Multiple data collection techniques, both quantitative and qualitative, were applied in this study. Additionally, two distinct groups of respondents participated: (1) park managers and their staff; and (2) boaters (individuals who own boats registered in Utah). Data were collected at three different spatial scales: (1) lake or reservoir level iv (site); regional level; and (3) state level.

Multiple analytical approaches were used to ascertain both groups’ perspectives towards a variety of topics important to recreation management including content analysis and cluster analysis, as well as considering experience use history.

The results suggest implementing a regional approach is more complicated and inclusive than providing a wide range of recreational opportunities. The organizational capacity of the managing agencies, along with their ability to cooperate with other governmental and private organizations, is also important. Also, considering larger spatial scales increases an agency’s options to address various challenges such as conflict, displacement, recreation succession, and homogenization and sub-optimization. As such, when prescriptive decisions about where various recreational opportunities ought to be provided, management problems and issues and agency capacity should also be considered. This dissertation also provides a model for conducting regional analyses.