Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Problems Associated with Collecting Use Levels and Campsite Locations in a Small Wilderness




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness is a small (3,500 ac) wilderness in Michigan. The U.S. Forest Service was interested in obtaining use levels as well as demographic data through a voluntary self-report survey placed adjacent to the five trails leading into the wilderness. Additionally, they also collected data on user-created campsites. These two research projects were designed to bring the wilderness closer to compliance with the Chief's Wilderness Challenge. A host of interesting problems occurred including trail placement, survey question wording, proximity to a high use recreation area, and issues associated with calibrating the data. The campsite inventory was challenging because of the high day use associated with Lake Michigan (one of the boundaries to the wilderness) because the key variable used to determine if a user-created campsite existed was the presence of a fire ring. Additionally, the sandy substrate that dominates the wilderness made identifying campsite impacts even more daunting. Despite these challenges and many others valuable information was still collected. Many, but not all, of the problems can be avoided when the baseline information is updated.

Conference Name

18th International Symposium on Society & Resource Management

Conference Location

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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