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phto: Bob DeckerHow do managers at the Rachel Carson and Masonboro Island Reserves learn about how visitors impact Reserve land and resources?

In the past, monitoring visitor use of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve sites presented a challenge due to limited resources and staff time.

However, a recent partnership between the Coastal Reserve and North Carolina State University focuses on training Reserve volunteers to monitor visitor use and impacts on natural environments.

An NC State PRTM Graduate student works with volunteersThis will ultimately improve staff understanding of how people use the Reserve and help tailor stewardship efforts to benefit both visitors and the Reserves’ natural resources.

Dr. Yu-Fai Leung of N C State’s Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management department is interested in studying sustainable visitor use in protected areas, and how participatory monitoring of visitor impacts can provide useful data to protected area managers.

Dr Yu-Fai Leung with graduate students and volunteersAs federal and state protected lands with significant public use for recreation and wildlife viewing, the Coastal Reserve is an ideal study area to implement Dr. Leung’s research on using volunteers to monitor visitor use and impacts.

Dr. Leung states that data collection by volunteers can “benefit the public good of these coastal resources by balancing visitor use and conservation goals.”

Read the complete article on the NC Coastal Reserve website.