Research to Guide Management of Backcountry Camping at Isle Royale National Park: Part I - Descriptive Research

 
Journal of Park and Recreation Administration
22                                                                 Volume 21, Number 3
Fall 2003                                                                     pp. 22-42

Research to Guide Management of
Backcountry Camping at Isle Royale
National Park: Part I – Descriptive
Research
     Steven R. Lawson
     Robert E. Manning

     ABSTRACT: This paper is the first in a sequence of two papers that report
     on descriptive and prescriptive research undertaken at Isle Royale National
     Park to support development of a new wilderness management plan at the
     Park. The present paper reports on the first phase of study aimed at
     developing descriptive information on backcountry camping at Isle Royale.
     This information includes the relationship between number and spatio-
     temporal distribution of camping groups and amount of campsite sharing,
     as well as the potential effectiveness of alternative management practices
     designed to reduce campsite sharing. A computer simulation model of
     backcountry camping was developed for this purpose. The second paper
     reports on the prescriptive phase of the research that focused on visitor
     preferences among alternative management scenarios designed to reduce
     campsite sharing. Findings from the first, descriptive phase of research were
     used to identify a set of feasible, realistic management scenarios that could
     be incorporated into the second, prescriptive phase of research.
           The study results suggest that under the Park’s current management
     approach, an average of about 9% of groups are required to share campsites
     per night during July and August, with 24% sharing during the busiest two
     weeks of this period. Further, the results suggest that the Park would need
     to reduce visitor use during July and August by nearly 25% to ensure that
     an average of no more than 5% of groups share campsites per night. The
     model estimates that by instituting a fixed itinerary system, the Park could
     issue approximately 30% more permits than they did during the 2001
     visitor use season, while at the same time virtually eliminating campsite
     sharing. The results of several other management simulations are presented
     and discussed in the paper, including campsite construction and spatial and
     temporal redistribution of visitor use.
           The computer simulation model developed in this study provides park
     managers with a tool to assess the effectiveness and consequences of
     management alternatives in a manner that may be more cost-effective, less
     labor-intensive, more comprehensive, and less politically risky than on-the-
     ground, trial-and-error approaches. Further, the research presented in this
     sequence of papers provides a model for integrating descriptive and
     prescriptive research findings into the planning and management of parks
     and wilderness.

     KEYWORDS: Isle Royale National Park, simulation modeling, wilder-
     ness, wilderness management, backcountry camping, indicators and stan-
     dards of quality, carrying capacity
23

    AUTHORS: Steven R. Lawson is with the Division of Forestry, Recre-
    ation, Parks and Tourism Program, West Virginia University, Morgantown,
    WV, 26505, (304)293-2941, E-mail: steven.lawson@uvm.edu. Robert E.
    Manning is with the School of Natural Resources, University of Vermont
    Burlington, VT 05405, (802)656-2684, E-mail: robert.manning@uvm.edu.
          The authors would like to acknowledge the following people for their
    assistance with various aspects of this study: Marilyn Hof, Denver Service
    Center, National Park Service; Jack Oeflke, Ann Mayo Kiely, and Mark
    Romanski, Isle Royale National Park; and David Cole, Aldo Leopold
    Wilderness Research Institute.

Introduction
     Since the establishment of the National Wilderness Preservation Sys-
tem in 1964, recreation use of wilderness has grown steadily and continues
to be on the rise, particularly in national parks (Cole, 1996). The wilderness
portion of Isle Royale National Park is a good example: approximately 99%
of the Park’s land base is designated wilderness, and visitation to the Park
during the 1990s grew at a rate of 4-5% annually. On a per-acre basis, the
Park has the highest number of wilderness overnight stays in the National
Park System (Farrell & Marion, 1998).
     Growing demand for backcountry camping at Isle Royale National
Park has led to potential problems, and the National Park Service is
currently engaged in developing a new wilderness management plan to
address these problems. In particular, during peak periods of the season,
campground capacities are commonly exceeded and some camping groups
must share campsites. During the peak use period in 1997, a survey of
backcountry campers found that respondents reported having to share
campsites nearly 20% of camping nights (Pierskalla, Anderson, & Lime,
1996, 1997). Moreover, most campers surveyed indicated that having to
double-up with other camping groups detracted from the quality of their
experience.
     To support development of a new wilderness management plan at Isle
Royale, a two-phase program of research was developed and administered.
This research program was designed to address both the “descriptive” and
“prescriptive” components of outdoor recreation research (Manning,
1999, 2001; Stankey & Manning, 1986). As originally proposed by Shelby
and Heberlein (1984, 1986), descriptive research in outdoor recreation
focuses on factual, objective data, such as the amount of recreation-related
impact caused by varying levels of recreation use. In the case of Isle Royale,
one of the important issues to be addressed is the relationship between the
number and spatio-temporal distribution of backcountry camping groups
and the percentage of groups that must share campsites. The prescriptive
component (Shelby and Heberlein originally used the term “evaluative”)
concerns the seemingly more subjective issue of how much impact should
be allowed. In the case of Isle Royale, for example, how much campsite
sharing should be allowed before use limits or other management actions
are taken?
24

     This paper is the first in a sequence of two papers that report on
descriptive and prescriptive research undertaken at Isle Royale National
Park. The present paper reports on the first phase of study aimed at
developing descriptive information on backcountry camping at Isle Royale.
This information includes the relationship between number and spatio-
temporal distribution of camping groups and amount of campsite sharing,
as well as the potential effectiveness of alternative management practices
designed to reduce campsite sharing. A computer simulation model of
backcountry camping was developed for this purpose. The second paper
reports on the prescriptive phase of research which focused on visitor
preferences among alternative management scenarios designed to reduce
campsite sharing. Stated choice modeling is incorporated into a survey of
backcountry campers to develop this information. Findings from the first,
descriptive phase of research were used to identify a set of feasible, realistic
management scenarios that could be incorporated into the second, pre-
scriptive phase of research.
Isle Royale National Park
     Isle Royale National Park is located in the northwest corner of Lake
Superior, approximately 75 miles from Houghton, Michigan and 20 miles
from Grand Portage, Minnesota. The park has a system of 36 campgrounds,
with a total of 244 designated tent and shelter sites dispersed along a
network of 165 miles of trails. Primary recreation activities at the park,
which is open to visitors from mid-April until the end of October, include
hiking and camping (Farrell & Marion, 1998).
     Visitors interested in backcountry camping at Isle Royale National Park
are required to obtain a permit. As part of the permitting process, visitors
are asked to report their anticipated itinerary, identifying the number of
nights they plan to be in the park and the campground they intend to stay
at each night of their camping trip. However, visitors are not required to
follow their proposed itinerary and there are no restrictions on the number
of permits issued for camping in the park. While visitors do have the option
to obtain special permits for off-trail hiking and camping, the vast majority
choose to camp at the designated campground sites (Farrell & Marion,
1998).
     Isle Royale National Park’s approach to backcountry camping manage-
ment is designed to maximize public access to the park and to maintain
visitors’ sense of spontaneity and freedom. However, recent research
suggests that this management approach, coupled with increased backcountry
visitation at the park, has resulted in campground capacities commonly
being exceeded during peak periods of the visitor use season. Campers who
arrive at full campgrounds are asked to share campsites with other groups,
and most campers surveyed indicated that having to double-up with other
camping groups detracted from the quality of their experience (Pierskalla,
Anderson, & Lime, 1996, 1997).
25

     Park managers have decided to address this backcountry camping issue
by formulating a standard for campsite sharing (Manning, 1999). As park
staff attempt to identify an appropriate and feasible standard for campsite
sharing, they are faced with a number of difficult questions. For example,
to what extent would use limits or fixed itineraries need to be imposed in
order to achieve alternative standards for campsite sharing? Could provi-
sion of public access, visitor freedoms, and reduced campground crowding
be optimized by redistributing use temporally and/or spatially? Could
alternative standards for campsite sharing be achieved by adding new
campsites to the park, rather than by limiting use? If so, how many
additional campsites would be needed, and where would they need to be
located? Embedded in all of these questions are tradeoffs among visitor
freedoms, spontaneity of visitor experiences, public access, natural resource
protection, and opportunities for camping solitude. This study uses simu-
lation modeling to assist managers in answering these and related ques-
tions.
Simulation Modeling of Outdoor Recreation
     Computer simulation models have been successfully applied to a
variety of park and outdoor recreation areas. The first generation of
simulation modeling in outdoor recreation, referred to as the Wilderness
Travel Simulation Model (WTSM), was introduced in the 1970s, and
continued through the mid-1980s (Borkan & Underhill, 1989; Manning
& Potter, 1984; McCool, Lime, & Anderson, 1977; Potter & Manning,
1984; Schechter & Lucas, 1978; Smith & Headly, 1975; Smith & Krutilla,
1976; Underhill, Xaba, & Borkan, 1986). The WTSM was designed to
provide estimates of the number, type (e.g., meeting, overtaking, encoun-
ters among different types of user groups), and location of encounters
between recreation groups in a park or wilderness area (Wang & Manning,
1999). Despite the early success of the WTSM, it fell into disuse largely due
to the cost and difficulty of running the computer simulations (Cole,
2002).
     Recent advances in computing technology have made computer simu-
lation modeling more accessible and affordable (Pidd, 1992). With im-
proved computer simulation capabilities, a second generation of applica-
tions of simulation modeling to outdoor recreation management has
emerged in recent years. This new generation of simulation modeling,
which is used in this study, has been applied in several national parks and
related areas to track visitor travel patterns and to assist managers in
monitoring and managing social carrying capacity (Borrie et al., 1999;
Daniel & Gimblett, 2000; Gimblett, Richards, & Itami, 2000; Lawson,
Manning, Valliere, Wang, & Budruk, 2002; Manning, Lawson, Wang, &
Valliere, 1998; Manning, Valliere, Lawson, Wang, & Newman, 1999;
Manning, Wang, Valliere, & Lawson, 1998; Wang & Manning, 1999;
Wang, Manning, Lawson, & Valliere, 2000).
26

Methods

Computer Travel Simulation Model
     The computer travel simulation model developed in this study to
address questions associated with managing backcountry campground
crowding at Isle Royale National Park can be characterized as dynamic,
discrete-event, and stochastic (refer to Banks & Carson (1984) and Wang
& Manning (1999) for more information about the modeling approach
applied in this study). The travel simulation model was built using Extend
(1996), an object-oriented dynamic simulation package. The structure of
the model consists of hierarchical blocks that represent specific components
of the park’s camping system. In particular, the simulation model is
comprised of three main types of hierarchical blocks—entrance blocks,
routing blocks, and campground blocks.
     Entrance blocks were designed to generate simulated visitor groups.
Separate entrance blocks were developed for trips starting at the two most
commonly used entry points to the park, Windigo and Rock Harbor, and
for all trips starting at any other location. Within each entrance block, newly
generated visitor groups are assigned values for a set of attributes (e.g.,
group size, travel route) designed to direct their travel through the
simulated backcountry camping trip.
     Routing blocks are located at each campground and at the entrance to
the camping system. Within the routing blocks, simulated visitor groups are
directed to the next (or first) campground on their itineraries, at the
beginning of each simulated day. In addition, routing blocks direct groups
that have completed their itineraries to exit the park.
     Campground blocks were designed to report the number of groups
camping at each campground on each night throughout the simulation
period, and the number of groups sharing campsites. The model, which was
designed to simulate a three-week period, generates this information only
for the second and third weeks of the simulation, once the model has been
“initialized” (i.e., filled to a typical operating capacity).
Data Collection
     Backcountry camping permits issued by park staff during the 2001
season provided the primary source of data needed to construct the travel
simulation model. In particular, detailed information concerning the
starting and ending date of each group’s trip, camping itinerary, and group
size were used as inputs to the simulation model. As mentioned earlier,
visitors are asked to report their expected camping itinerary as part of the
park’s permitting process, but they are not actually required to follow their
proposed itinerary. This policy raises concern that use of the permit data as
an input into the travel simulation model may not be valid. That is, the travel
routes reported on the permits may not accurately reflect the actual
itineraries followed by backcountry camping groups. In order to address
this concern, all backcountry camping groups were asked to correct the
27

camping itinerary reported on their permit and to return the corrected
permit to the visitor center at the end of their camping trip. Visitors’
compliance with this request and the validity of the permit data will be
discussed in more detail later in the paper.
     Data needed to validate the outputs of the travel simulation model were
gathered through a series of campground occupancy observations con-
ducted throughout the park’s 2001 visitor use season. Campground hosts
at Belle Isle Campground and Daisy Farm Campground counted the
number of groups in each campground at the end of the day on randomly
selected dates throughout the season. In addition to the counts conducted
by campground hosts, wilderness rangers conducted campground occu-
pancy observations throughout the park during backcountry patrols. Data
collected by the wilderness rangers included the date, campground name,
and number of groups in the observed campground.
Model runs
     An initial set of simulation runs was conducted to characterize the
extent of campsite sharing during July and August, 2001 and the remainder
of the 2001 season (referred to throughout the remainder of this paper as
the July/August peak and the low-use period of the season, respectively).
This was followed by a series of simulation runs conducted to estimate the
effectiveness of alternative strategies for managing campsite sharing, in-
cluding use limits, spatial and temporal redistribution of use, fixed itiner-
aries, and campsite construction.
     Lastly, a set of simulations was run at current July/August peak
backcountry camping levels to validate the computer travel simulation
model output. Based on the outputs from these simulations, averages were
computed for the number of groups in selected campgrounds on weekend
nights and on weekday nights. The travel simulation model output were
compared to average campground occupancy data collected by park staff
during the 2001 season.
Results

Backcountry Camping Permit Data
     All 3,810 backcountry camping permits issued by the park during the
2001 season were used as inputs to the computer travel simulation model.
These data include permits issued to backpackers, kayakers, canoeists,
powerboaters, and sailboaters. In order to account for variation in groups’
travel routes, the permit data used for the travel simulation model were
stratified by group size, starting location, and date. A total of 2,422 permits
issued during July and August were used as inputs to the travel simulation
model to represent the park’s July/August peak, and the 1,388 permits
issued during the remainder of the season were used to represent the low-
use period of the season. Approximately 60% of the backcountry permits
issued during the 2001 season were returned to park staff with revised
itineraries. Data concerning the travel routes of visitors for the remaining
28

40% of backcountry permits are based on visitor groups’ proposed itineraries
reported at the beginning of their trips. The results of a test designed to
validate the use of these travel routes as inputs to the travel simulation
model are reported later in this paper.
     Information concerning the average number of permits issued per day
during the July/August peak and low-use periods of the 2001 season are
reported in Table 1. On average, 27 fewer permits were issued per day
during the low-use period of the 2001 season than during July and August.
The data also suggest that substantially more visitor groups started their
backcountry camping trips on a weekend than on a weekday. Specifically,
an average of 34 visitor groups started backcountry camping trips per
weekday during July and August, compared with an average of 52 groups
per weekend day. This trend held true during the low-use period of the
2001 season as well. In particular, the average number of groups starting
a backcountry camping trip per weekend day was double the average for
weekdays. Further, the permit data indicate that, during the July/August
peak and the low-use period of the 2001 season, the vast majority of
backcountry camping trips started at Windigo or Rock Harbor. However,
on average, nearly twice as many trips started from Rock Harbor than
Windigo each day.
Model Output

Extent of Campsite Sharing
    Results of travel simulation model runs designed to estimate the extent
of backcountry campsite sharing occurring at Isle Royale National Park
during the 2001 visitor use season are reported in Tables 2a and 2b. Table
2a reports the simulated mean number of permits issued per day, by day of
the week, starting location, and period of the season. The data in Table 2b
suggest that during the July/August peak, an average of nearly 9% of groups

                                 Table 1
     Mean Number of Permits Issued per Day, by Trip Starting Location—
                        2001 Visitor Use Season

                                               All Other All Locations
                           Windigo Rock Harbor Locations Combined

July/August weekdays        12.8        19.0         2.3          34.2

July/August weekend days    17.9        29.8         4.3          52.1

July/August all days        14.2        22.0         2.8          39.1

Low-use period weekdays      2.4        5.0          1.4          8.7

Low-use period
weekend days                 6.4        9.5          2.6          18.5

Low-use period all days      3.6        6.3          1.7          11.6
29

were required to share campsites per night. During the low-use period of
the 2001 visitor use season, the model estimates that, on average, less than
1% of groups were required to share campsites per night.
Evaluation of Management Scenarios
    Tables 3a through 6b report the results of travel simulation model runs
conducted to estimate the effectiveness of alternative backcountry manage-
ment strategies in reducing campsite sharing. Outputs reported for each
management scenario are averages based on the results of 20 simulation
runs. The model runs were repeated 20 times to capture stochastic variation
and to minimize the width of the confidence intervals around model
estimates to a substantively insignificant size.
Reducing Use Levels
     Travel simulation model estimates reported in Tables 3a and 3b
provide insight into the extent to which visitor use during July and August
would need to be reduced from 2001 levels to ensure that no more than 5%
of groups are required to share campsites per night (one of several standards
for campsite sharing that park staff are considering adopting). The results
suggest that in order to achieve this standard for campsite sharing, the
average number of permits issued per weekend day would have to be

                              Table 2a
     Simulated Mean Number of Permits Issued per Day—Status Quo

                            July/August—Status Quo   Low Use—Status Quo

Windigo
   Weekdays                          12.8                    2.6
   weekend days                      18.4                    6.0
   all days                          14.4                    3.6
Rock Harbor
   Weekdays                          19.0                    4.9
   weekend days                      30.9                    9.6
   all days                          22.4                    6.2
All other locations
   Weekdays                           2.4                    1.4
   weekend days                       4.4                    2.4
   all days                           3.0                    1.7
All locations combined
   Weekdays                          34.2                    8.9
   weekend days                      53.8                   18.0
   all days                          39.8                   11.5

                               Table 2b
 Estimated Percent of Groups Sharing Campsites per Night—Status Quo

                            July/August—Status Quo   Low Use—Status Quo

Percent of groups sharing
campsites per night                  8.7                    0.4
30

reduced by about one-quarter, and the number of permits issued per
weekday would have to be reduced from about 34 to 28. Overall, the model
estimates that the average number of permits issued per day would have to
be reduced from about 39 to about 31. This would result in approximately
22% fewer backcountry camping permits available to visitors during the
July/August peak than were issued during July and August of the 2001
visitor use season.
Spatial Redistribution of Use
     The data reported in Tables 4a and 4b summarize the results of
simulation runs conducted to estimate whether redistributing visitor use
evenly across the two primary starting locations for backcountry camping
trips (i.e., Windigo and Rock Harbor) is an effective alternative to visitor
use limits. The percent of groups sharing campsites under current July/
August peak-use levels would actually rise slightly if this approach were
taken. In fact, even with backcountry camping trips redistributed spatially,
the park would need to reduce the number of permits issued per day from
an average of about 39 permits to an average of about 31 permits in order
to ensure that, on average, no more than 5% of groups share campsites per
night.

                             Table 3a
 Simulated Mean Number of Permits Issued per Day—Visitor Use Limits

                            July/August—Status Quo       Use Limit

Windigo
   Weekdays                          12.8                  10.5
   weekend days                      18.4                  14.0
   all days                          14.4                  11.5
Rock Harbor
   Weekdays                          19.0                  15.3
   weekend days                      30.9                  23.7
   all days                          22.4                  17.7
All other locations
   Weekdays                           2.4                   1.9
   weekend days                       4.4                   3.4
   all days                           3.0                   2.3
All locations combined
   Weekdays                          34.2                  27.6
   weekend days                      53.8                  41.0
   all days                          39.8                  31.4

                                 Table 3b
       Estimated Percent of Groups Sharing Campsites per Night—
                            Visitor Use Limits

                            July/August—Status Quo       Use Limit

Percent of groups sharing
campsites per night                  8.7                   5.0
31

                               Table 4a
 Simulated Mean Number of Permits Issued per Day—Equal Number of
             Trips Starting at Windigo and Rock Harbor

                            July/August—Current Use          Use Limit
                              Spatial Redistribution   Spatial Redistribution

Windigo
   Weekdays                           16.3                     12.2
   weekend days                       23.1                     17.4
   all days                           18.2                     13.7
Rock Harbor
   Weekdays                           15.9                     12.1
   weekend days                       24.5                     19.6
   all days                           18.3                     14.2
All other locations
   Weekdays                            2.4                       2.4
   weekend days                        3.9                       4.2
   all days                            2.8                       2.9
All locations combined
   Weekdays                           34.5                     26.6
   weekend days                       51.4                     41.2
   all days                           39.4                     30.8

                                Table 4b
       Estimated Percent of Groups Sharing Campsites per Night—
       Equal Number of Trips Starting at Windigo and Rock Harbor

                            July/August—Current Use          Use Limit
                              Spatial Redistribution   Spatial Redistribution

Percent of groups sharing
campsites per night                   9.1                       5.0

Temporal Redistribution of Use
     Redistributing the current July/August peak-use levels evenly across
the days of the week represents a second alternative to visitor use limits
tested with the simulation model. The travel simulation model estimates
that even with weekend spikes of visitor use eliminated, approximately 9%
of groups would be required to share campsites per night if total July/
August peak backcountry camping use were held constant at 2001 levels
(Tables 5a and 5b). Further, the model output suggests that the park would
need to reduce backcountry camping use by about 22% during July and
August to ensure that no more than 5% of groups share campsites per night.
     If the park were to implement any of the three management scenarios
examined to this point, approximately 496 fewer permits would be available
to the public during July and August. However, the total number of permits
issued over the entire season could be maintained, while ensuring that no
more than 5% of groups share campsites per night, by issuing 496 additional
backcountry camping permits during the low use period of the season. The
travel simulation model output suggests that if 496 permits eliminated from
July and August were redistributed evenly across the remainder of the
32

                            Table 5a
 Simulated Mean Number of Permits Issued per Day—Equal Number of
               Weekend and Weekday Permits Issued

                            July/August—Current Use       Use Limit
                             Temporal Redistribution Temporal Redistribution

Windigo
   Weekdays                           14.6                    11.8
   weekend days                       14.5                    11.6
   all days                           14.6                    11.8
Rock Harbor
   Weekdays                           21.6                    17.5
   weekend days                       22.8                    18.3
   all days                           22.0                    17.8
All other locations
   Weekdays                            2.8                     2.3
   weekend days                        2.8                     2.4
   all days                            2.8                     2.4
All locations combined
   Weekdays                           39.1                    31.7
   weekend days                       40.1                    32.3
   all days                           39.4                    31.9

                                Table 5b
       Estimated Percent of Groups Sharing Campsites per Night—
         Equal Number of Weekend and Weekday Permits Issued

                            July/August—Current Use       Use Limit
                             Temporal Redistribution Temporal Redistribution

Percent of groups sharing
campsites per night                   8.6                      5.0

visitor use season, campsite sharing would increase from an average of
approximately 0.4% of groups per night during the low-use period of the
season, to just over 1% of groups per night (Tables 6a and 6b). These
estimates are based on the assumption that the additional permits shifted
from the peak period of the season would be redistributed evenly across all
of the days of the low use period of the season. However, it may be more
realistic to assume that most of this additional use would be concentrated
in June. Results from a series of simulation runs suggest that an additional
nine permits per day can be accommodated during June, while ensuring
that, on average, no more than 5% of groups are required to share campsites
per night. Such an approach would shift approximately 270 peak-season
permits to June, leaving an additional 226 permits to be accommodated
during the remainder of the low-use season.
Fixed Camping Itineraries
     Output from the travel simulation model provides insight into the
effect that requiring visitors to follow prescribed, fixed camping itineraries
during the July/August peak would have on campsite sharing. The results
33

                                Table 6a
      Simulated Mean Number of Permits Issued per Day—Peak Use
               Redistributed to Low-Use Period of Season

                              Low Use Period           Low Use Period
                                Current Use         496 Additional Permits

Windigo
   Weekdays                          2.6                      3.3
   weekend days                      6.0                      8.4
   all days                          3.6                      4.8
Rock Harbor
   Weekdays                          4.9                      6.7
   weekend days                      9.6                     12.9
   all days                          6.2                      8.5
All other locations
   Weekdays                          1.4                      1.9
   weekend days                      2.4                      3.6
   all days                          1.7                      2.4
All locations combined
   Weekdays                          8.9                     12.0
   weekend days                     18.0                     24.9
   all days                         11.5                     15.7

                                Table 6b
       Estimated Percent of Groups Sharing Campsites per Night—
           Peak Use Redistributed to Low Use Period of Season

                              Low Use Period           Low Use Period
                                Current Use         496 Additional Permits

Percent of groups sharing
campsites per night                 0.4                      1.2

of a series of simulation runs suggest that, at 2001 visitor use levels, there
are an average of 148 camping groups in the park per night during July and
August. As mentioned earlier in this paper, there are a total of 244
backcountry campsites in the park. Theoretically, if the park instituted a
fixed itinerary permit system, they could increase backcountry camping use
by approximately 60% while virtually eliminating campsite sharing. This
assumes, however, that backcountry camping groups would not deviate
from their prescribed itineraries, and that it would be possible to design a
set of fixed itineraries that would result in every campsite being occupied.
The issue of non-compliance with fixed itineraries is further addressed later
in the paper.
Development of Additional Campsites
     A final management strategy tested in this study involved development
of additional campsites. The park’s recently adopted General Management
Plan allows for construction of up to 13 additional campsites within
specified existing campgrounds. Output from the travel simulation model
34

suggests that, without instituting any limits on use, an average of just under
7% of groups would share campsites per night if the 13 additional campsites
were constructed.
Model Validation
    No statistically significant differences were found between observed
campground occupancies collected by park staff during the 2001 season
and travel simulation model output (Table 7). While there may be a
possibility of Type II error associated with these tests due to the relatively
small sample sizes, there are no substantive differences between the ob-
served campground occupancies and the corresponding model output.
This suggests that the travel simulation model accurately represents
backcountry camping conditions at the park during the 2001 season and
that the permit data are valid inputs to the model.
Discussion and Management Implications
     The findings from this study have implications for management of
backcountry camping use at Isle Royale National Park in particular, and for
management of visitor use in parks and wilderness in general. Recent
research conducted at Isle Royale National Park identified campsite sharing
as a prevalent problem for park visitors, detracting from the quality of their
experiences (Pierskalla et al., 1996, 1997). In response to this information,
park managers have made a commitment to adopt campsite sharing-related
indicators and standards of quality and to develop and implement strategies
to reduce or eliminate campsite sharing. To do this in an informed manner,
park managers not only need to identify their management options, they
must also understand the effects of alternative management strategies on a
diverse array of public wilderness values (Cole, 2002). This study assists
park managers in defining and assessing management alternatives not only

                                   Table 7
                 Travel Simulation Model Validation Results

Campground                             Observed        Model        t-statistic

Daisy Farm—weekend                        15.0          15.8          -0.441
                                          (15)2         (16)

Daisy Farm—weekday                        15.1          13.3          0.961
                                          (14)          (40)

Belle Isle—weekend                        3.1            3.8          -0.801
                                          (12)           (16)

Belle Isle—weekday                        3.1            3.1          -0.031

Note: An alpha level of 0.10 was chosen, rather than 0.05, to reduce the possibility
of Type II error.
1
 Not significant at x=0.10.
2
 Values in parentheses are number of observations used to calculate means.
35

in terms of how effective they are at reducing or eliminating campsite
sharing, but also in terms of their consequences with respect to visitor
freedoms, public access, and resource protection.
     Results from this study are consistent with findings from previous
research at Isle Royale National Park, suggesting that campsite sharing is
prevalent during certain periods of the visitor use season, and further
quantifying the extent of this problem. In particular, findings from this
study suggest that an average of just under 9% of groups were required to
share campsites during July and August, 2001. Although it would be
possible to reduce campsite sharing through backcountry camping use
limits, results from the travel simulation model suggest that the park would
have to issue approximately 22% fewer permits during July and August to
ensure that an average of no more than 5% of groups share campsites.
     The outdoor recreation literature generally suggests that use limits
should be considered a last resort for managing crowding, and that less
intrusive alternatives should be considered first (Behan, 1974, 1976;
Dustin & McAvoy, 1980; Hall, 2001; Hendee & Lucas, 1973, 1974). For
example, managers may be able to avoid limiting use to achieve desired
social conditions by redistributing visitor use spatially or temporally (Cole,
Peterson, & Lucas, 1987; Hendee, Stankey, & Lucas, 1990; Manning,
1999). Computer simulation modeling provides managers with a tool to
assess the effectiveness of these management alternatives in a manner that
may be more cost-effective, less labor-intensive, more comprehensive, and
less politically risky than on-the-ground, trial-and-error approaches. The
findings from this study suggest that evenly redistributing the number of
backcountry camping trips starting from each of Isle Royale National Park’s
two primary entry points, Windigo and Rock Harbor, is not an effective
strategy for reducing campsite sharing. Further, the model estimates that
redistributing backcountry camping use evenly across the days of the week
is equally ineffective at reducing campsite sharing.
     There are several possible explanations why these strategies may not be
effective at Isle Royale National Park. For example, there are limited
options for spatially redistributing visitor use, because there are only two
primary entry points to the park. Even if the park developed additional entry
points, it might be difficult for groups to reach underutilized campgrounds
during a typical backcountry camping trip. Spatial redistribution of use may
also be ineffective if the campgrounds that are underutilized do not appeal
to backcountry campers because of their location or lack of desirable
features. In addition, there may be a limited number of campgrounds for
visitors to choose from along certain routes within the park. For example,
there are few campgrounds, separated by relatively long distances, along the
two primary hiking routes in the western half of the park (the Minong Ridge
and Greenstone Ridge Trails). If visitors choose to follow one of these
routes, they may have no other option than to camp in fully occupied
campgrounds.
36

      Observed campground occupancy data collected by park staff provide
a potential explanation for the ineffectiveness of redistributing use evenly
across the days of the week to reduce campsite sharing. In particular, the
average number of groups camping per night at campsites where counting
was conducted was the same for weekend and weekday nights. This
suggests that there may not be additional camping capacity available during
weeknights even though more backcountry camping groups start their trips
on weekend days. The amount of backcountry camping use on weekend
and weekday nights at the park may have more to do with the length of
groups’ trips than with when they start their trip.
      Despite the ineffectiveness of these approaches at Isle Royale National
Park, in some cases temporal and spatial redistribution of visitor use have
been found to be effective alternatives to visitor use limits (Manning &
Potter, 1984; McCool, et al., 1977; Potter & Manning, 1984; Smith &
Krutilla, 1976; Underhill et al., 1986; Van Wagtendonk & Coho, 1986;
Wang & Manning, 1999). For example, findings from an application of the
WTSM suggest that the number of encounters along the Appalachian Trail
can be reduced by altering the number and timing of arrivals at various
trailheads (Manning & Potter, 1984; Potter & Manning, 1984). In fact,
spatial and temporal redistributions of use along a section of the trail were
found to be more effective at reducing the number of hiking and camping
encounters than across-the-board use limits. In such cases, simulation
modeling is a useful tool for optimizing the design of trailhead quota
systems and/or information and education programs that redistribute use
across starting locations and starting times.
      In contrast to the July/August peak, campsite sharing was estimated to
be infrequent during the low-use period of the 2001 visitor use season. It
is possible to reduce campsite sharing during July and August by temporally
redistributing a percentage of the visitor use during those months to the
low-use period of the season. The advantage of this approach is that it may
be effective at reducing campsite sharing during the July/August peak
without having to limit the number of backcountry camping trips allowed
during the visitor use season. However, quality in outdoor recreation
management is thought to be equated with provision of diverse recreation
opportunities (Hendee et al., 1990; Manning, 1999). Diversity may be
achieved through zoning an area, either temporally or spatially, to provide
a range of recreation opportunities (Brown, Driver, & McConnell, 1978;
Brown, Driver, Burns, & McConnell, 1979; Clark & Stankey, 1979; Driver
& Brown, 1978; Manning, 1999). At Isle Royale National Park, the low use
and peak periods of the visitor use season may serve as de facto “temporal
zones”, each providing opportunities that appeal to different segments of
the public. A decision to shift some use from July and August to the low-
use period of the season may reduce the diversity of experience opportuni-
ties the park provides during different periods of the season. Consequently,
the park may lose its appeal for groups that prefer experiences associated
with the historically low-use period of the season.
37

     According to simulation results in this study, by instituting a fixed
itinerary system, the park could theoretically eliminate campsite sharing
while nearly doubling the average number of permits issued per day during
July and August. However, previous research suggests that a number of
factors (e.g., weather, injuries, unrealistic trip planning) may keep visitors
from remaining on their prescribed itineraries, and that visitor compliance
rates with this regulation are relatively low (Farrell & Marion, 1998;
Parsons, Stohlgren, & Fodor, 1981; Stewart, 1989, 1991; Van Wagtendonk
& Benedict, 1980). For example, in studies at Grand Canyon National Park
and Saguaro National Monument, 23% to 60% of backcountry campers
were found to have deviated from their assigned itinerary (Stewart, 1989).
It follows that the actual number of additional permits that could be issued
to backcountry camping groups at Isle Royale National Park under a fixed
itinerary system would have to be adjusted downward to account for visitor
non-compliance. Even with such an adjustment, the park could theoreti-
cally accommodate more backcountry camping groups during July and
August than currently visit the park, and diminish campsite sharing.
However, if the park were to institute a fixed itinerary system, it would
substantially reduce visitor freedoms and eliminate much of the spontaneity
associated with visitors’ backcountry camping experiences (Cole, Peterson,
& Lucas, 1987; Hendee et al., 1990). Results of several studies, including
research conducted at Isle Royale National Park, suggest that prescribed
camping itineraries are generally not supported by visitors (Anderson &
Manfredo, 1986; Lucas, 1985; Pierskalla et al., 1996, 1997).
     The capability of the travel simulation model to quantify tradeoffs
associated with alternative backcountry camping strategies is not limited to
those examined in this study. For example, findings from this study suggest
that construction of additional campsites called for in the park’s General
Management Plan might contribute to a reduction in campsite sharing,
while avoiding use limits. A related, and perhaps more efficient way to use
the travel simulation model would be to identify “problem” campgrounds.
That is, the spatially explicit nature of the information concerning campsite
sharing derived from the simulation model could be used to isolate
campgrounds where capacity is regularly exceeded. This information could
be used to guide the construction of additional campsites in a manner that
optimizes the tradeoff between increasing the “ecological footprint” of the
park’s campgrounds and minimizing campsite sharing. Such an approach
would have to be guided by consideration of geographic, ecological, and
other constraints to adding campsites at particular campgrounds. Simula-
tions could also be conducted to test the effectiveness of combining
multiple strategies, such as implementing use limits during the peak season
and constructing additional campsites. Following a series of training
sessions conducted by the authors, Isle Royale National Park staff are now
using the travel simulation model developed in this study to assess the
effectiveness of these and other management strategies as they emerge
throughout the park’s current wilderness and backcountry planning pro-
cess.
38

     Although this study provides managers with descriptive data related to
backcountry camping at Isle Royale National Park, managers are still faced
with difficult judgments concerning the most appropriate strategies for
managing backcountry camping. These judgments require managers to
reconcile tradeoffs among potentially competing wilderness values. For
example, do the costs in visitor freedoms and spontaneity associated with
a fixed itinerary system outweigh the benefits of increasing use and
eliminating or substantially reducing campsite sharing? Is it in the public’s
interest to limit backcountry camping use during the peak period of the
season in order to minimize campsite sharing? If so, to what extent should
use be limited to achieve a greater degree of camping solitude? Is it
acceptable to shift a percentage of peak-season use to the low-use period of
the season, or does the historically low use period of the season offer a type
of wilderness experience that should be preserved? While these judgments
must ultimately be made by managers, a growing body of prescriptive
recreation research has been conducted to provide managers with a more
informed basis for making such judgments (Lawson & Manning, 2000a,
2000b, 2001a, 2001b, 2002a, 2002b; Manning & Lawson, 2002). Find-
ings from this study form an empirically grounded basis for prescriptive
research at Isle Royale National Park. In particular, the descriptive phase of
research reported in this paper has helped managers identify a set of feasible,
realistic management alternatives designed to reduce campsite sharing. A
subset of these alternatives, which are outlined in Table 8, were incorpo-
rated into a visitor survey designed to help managers evaluate the public’s
acceptance of consequences and benefits associated with alternative man-
agement scenarios. The second paper in this sequence reports on this
prescriptive phase of research conducted at Isle Royale National Park.

                              Table 8
Management Alternatives Quantified Based on Simulation Model Output1

                        Alternative 1        Alternative 2        Alternative 3
                         Status Quo          Permit Quota        Fixed Itinerary

Public Access1          Current use          22% reduction        30% increase
                      (39 permits/day)      (31 permits/day)     (52 permits/day)

Freedom of Travel    No fixed itineraries No fixed itineraries   Fixed itineraries

Campsite Solitude2     9% of groups          5% of groups
39

References
     Anderson, D., & Manfredo, M. (1986). Visitor preferences for management
actions. Proceedings—national wilderness research conference: Current research.
USDA Forest Service General Technical Report INT-212, 314-319.
     Banks, J., & Carson, J. (1984). Discrete-event system simulation. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
     Behan, R. (1974). Police state wilderness: A comment on mandatory wilder-
ness permits. Journal of Forestry, 72, 98-99.
     Behan, R. (1976). Rationing wilderness use: An example from Grand Canyon.
Western Wildlands, 3, 23-26.
     Borkan, R., & Underhill, A. (1989). Simulating the effects of Glen Canyon
Dam releases on Grand Canyon river trips. Environmental Management, 13, 347-
354.
     Borrie, W., Freimund, W., Davenport, M., Manning, R., Valliere, W., &
Wang, B. (1999). Winter visitor and visitor characteristics of Yellowstone National
Park. Unpublished report, University of Montana, Missoula.
     Brown, P., Driver, B., & McConnell, C. (1978). The opportunity spectrum
concept in outdoor recreation supply inventories: Background and application.
Proceedings of the integrated renewable resources inventories workshop. USDA Forest
Service General Technical Report RM-55, 73-84.
     Brown, P., Driver, B., Burns, D., & McConnell, C. (1979). The outdoor
recreation opportunity spectrum in wildland recreation planning: Development
and application. First annual national conference on recreation planning and
development: Proceedings of the specialty conference, 2, Washington, D.C.: Society of
Civil Engineers, 1-12.
     Clark, R., & Stankey, G. (1979). The recreation opportunity spectrum: A
framework for planning, management, and research. USDA Forest Service Re-
search Paper PNW-98.
     Cole, D. (1996). Wilderness recreation use trends, 1965 through 1994. USDA
Forest Service Research Paper INT-RP-488.
     Cole, D. (2002). Simulation of recreational use in backcountry settings: An aid
to management planning. In A. Arnberger, C. Brandenburg, & A. Muhar (Eds.),
Proceedings of the international conference on monitoring and management of visitor
flows in recreational and protected areas (pp. 478-482). Vienna: Bodenkultur
University.
     Cole, D., Peterson, M., & Lucas, R. (1987). Managing wilderness recreation
use: Common problems and potential solutions. USDA Forest Service General
Technical Report INT-230.
     Daniel, T., & Gimblett, R. (2000). Autonomous agents in the park: An
introduction to the Grand Canyon river trip simulation model. International
Journal of Wilderness, 6, 39-43.
     Driver, B., & Brown, P. (1978). The opportunity spectrum concept in
outdoor recreation supply inventories: A rationale. Proceedings of the integrated
renewable resource inventories workshop. USDA Forest Service General Technical
Report RM 55, 24-31.
     Dustin, D., & McAvoy, L. (1980). Hardining national parks. Environmental
Ethics, 2, 29-44.
     Extend 3.2.1. [Computer software] 1996. Imagine That, San Jose, CA.
     Farrell, T., & Marion, J. (1998). An evaluation of camping impacts and their
management at Isle Royale National Park. United States Department of Interior,
National Park Service Research/Resources Management Report.
40

      Gimblett, R., Richards, M., & Itami, R. (2000). RBSim: Geographic simula-
tion of wilderness recreation behavior. Journal of Forestry, 99, 36-42.
      Hall, T. (2001). Use limits in wilderness: Assumptions and gaps in knowledge.
Visitor use density and wilderness experiences: Proceedings. USDA Forest Service
Proceedings RMRS-p-20, pp. 29-38.
      Hendee, J., & Lucas, R. (1973). Mandatory wilderness permits: A necessary
management tool. Journal of Forestry, 71, 206-209.
      Hendee, J., & Lucas, R. (1974). Police state wilderness: A comment on a
comment. Journal of Forestry, 72, 100-101.
      Hendee, J., Stankey, G., & Lucas, R. (1990). Wilderness management.
Golden, CO: North American Press.
       Lawson, S., & Manning, R. (2000a). Crowding versus access at Delicate
Arch, Arches National Park: An indifference curve analysis. In I. Schneider, D.
Chavez.
      Borrie, B., & K. James (Eds.), Proceedings of the third symposium on social
aspects and recreation research (pp. 135-143). Tempe: Arizona State University.
      Lawson, S. & Manning, R. (2000b). Evaluating multiple dimensions of
visitors’ tradeoffs between access and crowding at Arches National Park using
indifference curve analysis. Proceedings of the 2000 northeastern recreation research
symposium. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report NE-276.
      Lawson, S. & Manning, R. (2001a). Crossing experiential boundaries: Visitor
preferences regarding tradeoffs among social, resource, and managerial attributes
of the Denali wilderness experience. The George Wright Forum, 18, 10-27.
      Lawson, S. & Manning, R. (2001b). Solitude versus access: A study of
tradeoffs in outdoor recreation using indifference curve analysis. Leisure Sciences,
23, 179-191.
      Lawson, S. & Manning, R. (2002a). Integrating multiple wilderness values
into a decision-making model for Denali National Park and Preserve. In A.
Arnberger, C. Brandenburg, and A. Muhar (Eds.), Proceedings of the international
conference on monitoring and management of visitor flows in recreational and
protected areas (pp. 136-142). Vienna: Bodenkultur University.
      Lawson, S. & Manning, R.. (2002b). Tradeoffs among social, resource, and
management attributes of the Denali wilderness experience: A contextual approach
to normative research. Leisure Sciences, 24, 297-312.
      Lawson, S., Manning, R., Valliere, W., Wang, B., & Budruk, M. (2002).
Using simulation modeling to facilitate proactive monitoring and adaptive man-
agement of social carrying capacity in Arches National Park, Utah, USA. In A.
Arnberger, C. Brandenburg, & A. Muhar (Eds.), Proceedings of the international
conference on monitoring and management of visitor flows in recreational and
protected areas (pp. 205-210). Vienna: Bodenkultur University.
      Lucas, R. (1985). Recreation trends and management of the Bob Marshall
Wilderness Complex. Proceedings of the 1985 national outdoor recreation trends
symposium, volume II. Atlanta: U.S. National Park Service, 309-316.
      Manning, R. (1999). Studies in outdoor recreation: Search and research for
satisfaction. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press.
      Manning, R. (2001). Visitor experience and resource protection: A framework
for managing the carrying capacity of national parks. Journal of Park and
Recreation Administration, 19, 93-108.
      Manning, R., & Lawson, S. (2002). Carrying capacity as “informed judg-
ment”: The values of science and the science of values. Environmental Manage-
ment, 30, 157-168.
41

      Manning, R, Lawson, S., Wang, B., & Valliere, W. (1998). Research to support
visitor management at Alcatraz Island: Study completion report. Unpublished
report, University of Vermont, Burlington.
      Manning, R., & Potter, F. (1984). Computer simulation as a tool in teaching
park and wilderness management. Journal of Environmental Education, 15, 3-9.
      Manning, R., Valliere, W., Lawson, S., Wang, B., & Newman, P. (1999).
Carrying capacity research for Yosemite Valley: Phase II study. Unpublished report,
University of Vermont, Burlington.
      Manning, R., Wang, B., Valliere, W., & Lawson, S. (1998). Carrying capacity
research for Yosemite Valley: Phase I study. Unpublished report, University of
Vermont, Burlington.
      McCool, S., Lime, D., & Anderson, D. (1977). Simulation modeling as a tool
for managing river recreation. In River recreation management and research
symposium proceedings (pp. 202-209). USDA Forest Service General Tech. Rep.
NC-28.
      Parsons, D., Stohlgren, T., & Fodor, P. (1981). Establishing backcountry use
quotas: The example from Mineral King, California. Environmental Management,
5, 335-340.
      Pidd, M. (1992). Computer simulation in management science. New York:
John Wiley & Sons.
      Pierskalla, C., Anderson, D., & Lime, D. (1996). Isle Royale National Park
1996 visitor survey: Final report. Unpublished report, Cooperative Park Studies
Unit, University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
       Pierskalla, C., Anderson, D., & Lime, D. (1997). Isle Royale National Park
1997 visitor survey: Final report. Unpublished report, Cooperative Park Studies
Unit, University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
      Potter, F., & Manning, R. (1984). Application of the wilderness travel
simulation model to the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. Environmental Manage-
ment, 8, 543-550.
      Schechter, M., & Lucas, R. (1978). Simulation of recreation use for park and
wilderness management. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
      Shelby, B., & Heberlein, T. (1986). Carrying capacity in recreation settings.
Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press.
      Shelby, B., & Heberlein, T. (1984). A conceptual framework for carrying
capacity determination. Leisure Sciences, 6, 433-451.
      Smith, K., & Headly, R. (1975). The use of computer simulation models in
wilderness management. In S. Ladany (Ed.), Management science applications to
leisure time. North Holland.
      Smith, K., & Krutilla, J. (1976). Structure and properties of a wilderness travel
simulator. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
      Stankey, G., & Manning, R. (1986). Carrying capacity of recreation settings.
A literature review: The president’s commission on American outdoors. Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, M-47-M-57.
      Stewart, W. (1989). Fixed itinerary systems in backcountry management.
Environmental Management, 29, 163-171.
      Stewart, W. (1991). Compliance with fixed itinerary systems in water-based
parks. Environmental Management, 15, 235-240.
      Underhill, A., Xaba, A., & Borkan, R. (1986). The wilderness use simulation
model applied to Colorado River boating in Grand Canyon National Park, USA.
Environmental Management, 10, 367-374.
42

     Van Wagtendonk, J., & Benedict, J. (1980). Wilderness permit compliance
and validity. Journal of Forestry, 78, 399-401.
     Van Wagtendonk, J., & Coho, P. (1986). Trailhead quotas: Rationing use to
keep wilderness wild. Journal of Forestry, 84, 22-24
     Wang, B., & Manning, R. (1999). Computer simulation modeling for
recreation management: A study on Carriage Road use in Acadia National Park,
Maine, USA. Environmental Management, 23, 193-203.
     Wang, B., Manning, R., Lawson, S., & Valliere, W. (2000). Estimating social
carrying capacity through simulation modeling: An application to Arches National
Park, Utah. Proceedings of the 2000 northeastern recreation research symposium.
USDA Forest Service General Technical Report NE-276.
You can also read
NEXT SLIDES ... Cancel