Environmental Management

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1006–1019 | Cite as

Visitor Evaluations of Management Actions at a Highly Impacted Appalachian Trail Camping Area

  • Melissa L. Daniels
  • Jeffrey L. MarionEmail author


Protected area management involves balancing environmental and social objectives. This is particularly difficult at high-use/high-impact recreation sites, because resource protection objectives may require substantial site management or visitor regulation. This study examined visitors’ reactions to both of these types of actions at Annapolis Rocks, Maryland, a popular Appalachian Trail camping area. We surveyed visitors before and after implementation of camping policies that included shifting camping to designated newly constructed campsites and prohibiting campfires. Survey results reveal that visitors were more satisfied with all social and environmental indicators after the changes were enacted. An Importance-Performance analysis also determined that management actions improved conditions for factors of greatest concern to campers prior to the changes. Posttreatment visitors were least satisfied with factors related to reduced freedom and to some characteristics of the constructed campsites. Although there was evidence of visitor displacement, the camping changes met management goals by protecting the camping area’s natural resources and improving social conditions.


Adaptive management Camping policies Campsite impacts Importance-performance Visitor preferences 



Partial funding for this study was received from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Project assistance was also provided by staff of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Guidance in questionnaire development and analyses and reviews of this article were provided by Dr. Joe Roggenbuck and Dr. Steve McMullin.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forestry (0324)U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia Tech Field StationBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry (0324)Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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