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How do rationing and allocating outdoor recreation areas for visitor use impact visitor behavior?

Do people living in communities near public outdoor recreation areas benefit from those lands in the same way as visitors coming from a distance?

Do long time users of public lands exhibit greater visitor attachment, desire different recreation experiences, have different opinions about land management, and view public land managers differently than those who visit public lands less often?

Does gender influence visitor participation in different outdoor recreation activities? If so, what does it mean for recreation land use policies and practices?

What constrains people from visiting and recreating on public lands and how can public land managers encourage and promote greater use of public lands?

How does the public’s trust in public land managing agencies abilities impact the benefits of public land management to people and society?


Researchers in PRTM are engaged in answering questions like these and others to help public land managing agencies recognize that visitors to public lands and people living in communities nearby are impacted by management actions and differ in their capacity to adapt to the consequences of these actions.

Our research provides greater understanding of these differences and how they promote or constrain recreational use and community well-being. New ways of engaging visitors and communities in thinking about how public land management policies are implemented are being developed and put to use.

The envisioned outcome

Greater support and enjoyment of public lands leading to greater visitor satisfaction and greater social, economic, and environmental capital in surrounding communities. Research focused on practical problem-solving.

Featured Project: Using Immersive Virtual Environments to Value Ecosystem Services

Their mission?

HumanDimensions_webAgricultural landscapes produce numerous beneficial services to humans. Among these benefits are the regulation and maintenance of ecosystem functioning, the preservation of cultural amenities such as barns and historic battlefields, and, of course, agricultural products such as corn and soybeans. Sustaining these ecosystem services requires a clear understanding of why, and to what extent, we value them. Consequently, scientists in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management are using cutting-edge technology such as gigapixel imagery, collected through specialized camera equipment, and recreated immersive virtual environments, to generate accurate monetary estimates of individuals’ willingness to conserve agricultural landscapes throughout the state.

Why does this matter?

The team, led by Dr. Jordan Smith, hopes the research can be used to increase awareness of the wide variety of benefits that we receive from maintaining and managing healthy and productive landscapes throughout North Carolina. “Sustaining natural, cultural, and agricultural landscapes while continuing to grow economically is a major challenge faced by many communities”, says Dr. Smith. “What we’re trying to do is use the best available science to help conserve the state’s already highly fragmented landscapes.”

Examples of Recent Publications from PRTM in the area of Human Dimensions & Outdoors


Smith, J.W. (2013). Information networks in amenity transition communities: A comparative case study. Human Ecology, xx(x), xxx-xxx.

Siderelis, C., & Smith, J.W. (2013). Ecological settings and state economies as factor inputs in the provision of outdoor recreation. Environmental Management, xx(x), xxx-xxx.

Smith, J.W. (2013). Adaptive participation in forest planning contingent upon a hypothetical large-scale forest disturbance. Forest Science, xx(x), xxx-xxx.

Smith, J.W., & Moore, R.L. (2013). Social-psychological factors influencing recreation demand: Evidence from two recreational rivers. Environment and Behavior, xx(x), xxx-xxx.

Smith, J.W., Moore, R.L., & Sommerville, M. (2013). Non-sovereign visitor satisfaction: A case study of military training on the Appalachian Trail. Managing Leisure, 18(3), 1-13.

Smith, J.W., Leahy, J.E., Anderson, D.H., & Davenport, M.A. (2013). Community/agency trust and public involvement in resource planning. Society & Natural Resources, 26(4), 452-471.

Smith, J.W., Leahy, J.E., Anderson, D.H., & Davenport, M.A. (2013). Community/agency trust: A measurement instrument. Society & Natural Resources, 26(4), 472-477.

Smith, J.W., Anderson, D.H., Davenport, M.A., & Leahy, J.E. (2013). Community benefits from managed resource areas: An analysis of construct validity. Journal of Leisure Research, 45(2), 192-213.


Smith, J.W. (2012). Barriers and bridges to U.S. Forest Service—community relationships: Results from two pilot tests of a rapid social capital assessment protocol. Forests, 3(4), 1157-1179.

Siderelis, C., Moore, R.L., Leung, Y.-F., & Smith, J.W. (2012). A nationwide production analysis of state park attendance in the United States. Journal of Environmental Management, 99, 18-26.

Smith, J.W., Siderelis, C., Anderson, D.H., & Moore, R.L. (2012). The effects of place meanings and social capital on desired forest management outcomes: A stated preference experiment. Landscape and Urban Planning, 106(2), 207-218.

Smith, J.W., Moore, R.L., Anderson, D.H., & Siderelis, C. (2012). Community resilience in Southern Appalachia: A theoretical framework and three case studies. Human Ecology, 40(3), 341-353.

Smith, J.W., Anderson, D.H., & Moore, R.L. (2012). Social capital, place meanings, and perceived resilience to climate change. Rural Sociology, 77(3), 380-407.