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ARRC Areas of Research Expertise

Visitor use management research examines the impacts of increasing visitation on recreation resources and settings. Visitor use management refers to the sustainable management of recreation visitation, ensuring high-quality visitor experiences, protection of natural and cultural resources, and enhanced economic opportunities. This research provides scientifically grounded and legally defensible data to inform long-term management strategies and policies for land managers, elected officials, and the outdoor industry, addressing visitation impacts across jurisdictional boundaries.


Recreation carrying capacity research focuses on identifying the maximum level of visitation that a recreation setting can sustain without degrading its ecological, social, or economic integrity. Carrying capacity is influenced by various factors, such as the social and cultural characteristics, physical and biological features, level of development and infrastructure, and types of activities in an area. Conducting carrying capacity research is essential for ensuring the sustainable use of recreational resources.


Managed access research aims to understand the impacts, benefits, challenges, and outcomes of various managed access systems (e.g., reservations, permits, timed entry, and ticketed entry) in recreation settings. Managed access in recreation involves regulating entry and visitation within specific areas to ensure high-quality visitor experiences, protection of natural resources, and economic viability. This research seeks to inform management and policy decisions that minimize negative visitation impacts (e.g., crowding, conflict, and resource degradation) while promoting sustainable recreation experiences.


Visitor education research is conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of different educational interventions (e.g., signage, facilities, and language) in enhancing visitor knowledge and education in recreation settings. The research aims to inform and enhance responsible visitor behavior, etiquette, awareness, and understanding, while also addressing perceived barriers to access. It involves providing information, guidance, and resources to visitors, helping them minimize environmental impacts, respect local communities, and enhance their own experiences.


Recreation needs assessment research aims to identify the needs and preferences of a specific population regarding recreation activities, facilities, and services. The primary goal of this research is to understand the recreation needs and interests of the target population and utilize that information to guide the development and improvement of recreation programs, facilities, and services. Additionally, this research plays a vital role in ensuring that recreation opportunities are accessible and inclusive for all community members, including those with disabilities and disadvantages.


Recreation program and facility evaluation research is conducted to evaluate the effectiveness, quality, and impact of recreational programs and facilities on the individuals and communities they serve. The purpose of this research is to inform the development and improvement of future programs and facilities, allocate resources more effectively, and demonstrate the value and impact of recreation programs and facilities to stakeholders and funders. This research plays a crucial role in ensuring that recreational opportunities are of high quality, effective, and responsive to the needs and preferences of individuals and communities.


Economic impact and workforce research aims to quantify the economic impact of recreation activities and industries on local and regional economies. It also seeks to identify employment opportunities and workforce needs associated with these activities and industries. The results of this research are used to inform policy decisions, guide economic development strategies, and advocate for investments in recreation infrastructure and programs. This research plays a critical role in promoting and supporting the economic viability and sustainability of recreation activities and industries.


Recreation ecology research focuses on examining the ecological impacts of outdoor recreation activities on natural environments and ecosystems. Its objective is to understand how recreational activities and visitation affect the ecological integrity, biodiversity, and sustainability of recreational areas. This research explores the interactions between recreation and the environment, with the goal of informing management and policy decisions that minimize negative impacts while promoting sustainable outdoor recreation experiences.


Energy development research refers to the study and investigation of the impacts and interactions between energy development activities and outdoor recreation. Its goal is to understand the effects of both renewable energy development (e.g., offshore wind, solar, and hydroelectric) and non-renewable energy development (e.g., oil, natural gas, and coal) or transmission infrastructure on outdoor recreation opportunities, visitor experiences, and the natural environment. This research plays a critical role in the permitting and construction of energy infrastructure and policy within and adjacent to parks and protected areas.


Climate change research refers to the study and investigation of the impacts of climate change on outdoor recreation activities, natural environments, and visitor experiences. It focuses on understanding the effects of climate change on outdoor recreation visitors, managers, and resources. This research aims to identify strategies to adapt to and mitigate negative impacts (e.g., decreasing snowpack, fluctuating water levels, and water quality), ensuring the sustainability of outdoor recreation opportunities within recreation settings in the face of a changing climate.

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