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Recreation impact on campsite vegetation Baillargeon, Maurice Kinley

Abstract

The study purpose was to determine the occurrence and magnitude of understory vegetation change caused by the occupants of campsites, to determine the magnitude of screening provided by overstory vegetation, to assess quantitatively the reliability of battery operated electromagnetic digital traffic counters, and to correlate permit system data to traffic counter data. The original study design provided for cross-sectional data from twenty selected campsites within two campgrounds situated within two western Canada National Parks. Lack of visitors at one campground and time constraints at the other necessitated abandonment of fifteen sample campsites. The final field study was concerned with changes in understory vegetation, occupancy and screening of five selected campsites in Wapiti campground of Jasper National Park, the numbers and some characteristics of the parties entering the study area, and the numbers of parties entering the campground. The study period was July 1 to September 1, 1970. Sixteen sample days were randomly selected to provide double backed days, evenly distributed between weekdays and weekends. Four experimental plots and one control plot, each one square meter in area, were located within each sample campsite. Within these plots understory vegetation change was determined by scanning the vegetation understory through a clear plastic grid at the beginning and end of the study period. Total vegetation cover within the experimental plots was reduced from a mean of 37 percent to 17 percent. Total vegetation within the control plots was reduced from a mean of 46 percent to 35 percent. Statistical analysis revealed a significant reduction of total vegetation within the experimental plots and within the control plots. Occupancy of the sample campsites was observed each hour from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the sample days. No correlation could be found between changes in vegetation cover and occupancy of the sample sites. Overstory vegetation screening between campsites, determined by means of a pantallometer, ranged from 25 to 50 percent. Electromagnetic digital traffic counters were found to be a reliable and statistically acceptable method of collecting traffic data. Correlation of campground permit sales to traffic entering the campground indicated that each vehicle entered the campground approximately twice daily.

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