UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The backcountry of Manning Provincial Park : management and use Fox, Lucy


This thesis studies the use and management of a portion of the backcountry in Manning Provincial Park, located 140 miles east of the Vancouver area. Like many other North American wildlands near urban centres. Manning Park is experiencing increased pressure due to population growth in the surrounding area and the current popularity of hiking and camping activities. Demand for backcountry recreation areas appears to be increasing faster than new lands are added to park systems. The result: trails and campsites become more crowded, with possible negative effects on both the physical environment and on the "wilderness experience" of hikers. Environmental quality deterioration, which may indicate that a given area's biophysical carrying capacity has been exceeded, can include pollution of streams, presence of litter, and the chopping of live trees for firewood. Psychological consequences of heavy use have been recognized more recently as important for backcountry management. These refer to the hiker's tolerance for other humans in the area, for some backpackers the wilderness experience is enhanced by social encounters, while for certain individuals, the mere evidence of another camping party can ruin a trip. Little information on Manning Park's backcountry— biophysical characteristics and problems, and visitor numbers, types and needs—has been collected. Additionally, it is felt managers and planners have not given adequate attention to the preferences and opinions of backcountry visitors. Thus, the following steps were undertaken: 1) An examination of various management choices available in planning for backcountry hiking areas, through a review of relevant literature; 2) A case study of the backcountry of Manning Park, focusing on the Heather Trail. First, data were obtained regarding visitors--their backgrounds, preferences for backcountry facilities, numbers of visitors, and management alternatives. Half-hour personal interviews were conducted at campsites in the summer of 1975, followed up with mailed questionnaires in October 1975. Second, information about present management practices, planned future developments, and the opinions of managers on backcountry use and development, was obtained. Personal interviews were conducted with naturalists, administrators, and planners, and the conceptual plan developed fox the area by the Parks Branch planners was examined. 3) Suggestion of practicable management procedures which would help to create a backcountry environment meeting user needs and desires, while aiding in the maintenance of environmental quality. The case study revealed that managers lack the data on use levels, visitor opinions, and environmental conditions, which would greatly assist future management and planning efforts. Visitors, too, lack information concerning the park, its features, and facilities. Additionally, they are not exposed to information about the proper types of behaviour, those least likely to damage the biophysical environment. Two primary reasons exist for this deficiency: the park supplies little information, and visitors tend to avoid the Nature House, thus not receiving the available information. The following recommendations were set forward: 1) That a hiker registration system be implemented; 2) That mere extensive information be made available, and that visitors be encouraged to take advantage of it; *3 That a naturalist be hired to hike the Heather Trail loop during peak use times; *4 That unobtrusive physical measures be taken to curb trail erosion and widening; *5 That a new lec-p trail be constructed connecting the Three Brothers peaks; and *6 That park managers participate in seminars and workshops dealing with biophysical and psychological carrying capacity problems in the backccuntry, and various workable solutions to them.

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