Environmental Management

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 48–58 | Cite as

A Comparison of Campfire Impacts and Policies in Seven Protected Areas

  • Scott E. Reid
  • Jeffrey L. MarionEmail author


Using resource-monitoring data from seven protected areas, the effectiveness of three campfire policies—campfire ban, designated campfires, and unregulated campfires—were assessed based on the number of fire sites and the amount of tree damage. Results indicate that unregulated campfire policies permitted substantial numbers of fire sites and tree damage in campsites, although fire bans did not eliminate or even substantially decrease these problems. A designated campfire policy was effective in decreasing number of fire sites, but little difference was found among policies regarding tree damage. Given the importance of campfires to visitor experiences, campfire prohibitions could be viewed as unnecessarily restrictive based on their limited success in preventing resource damage. Conclusions encourage protected-area managers to consider designated campfire policies and prohibitions on axes, hatchets, and saws to better meet resource protection and visitor experience mandates.


Campfire impacts Camping impacts Recreation impacts Recreation ecology 



This research was funded by the U.S. National Park Service. We also appreciate the thoughtful guidance and thorough reviews of Kevin Larkin and Joe Roggenbuck.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trails Resource Specialist Summit County Open SpaceFriscoUSA
  2. 2.Leader, Virginia Tech Field UnitUnited States Geological SurveyPatuxent Wildlife Research CenterBlacksburgUSA

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