How can the YMCA minimize the impacts of their outdoor educational activities on the ecosystems of Camp Elphinstone without compromising outdoor experience? Mari, Yoan; Wu, Jasmine; Bauer, Austin; Hudson, Chloe
This project assessed the impact that outdoor educational activities have on the forest of YMCA Camp Elphinstone and the trade-off between this impact and the outdoor experience for campers. We assessed the impacts of outdoor educational activities by identifying and measuring valued ecosystem components at four different areas that were defined by their disturbance loads: high, medium, low and no (control site). Four plots were set up in each area, in which vegetation cover, invasive species abundance and ground litter composition were surveyed. Canopy porosity and soil density were also measured across all four areas. By reviewing the relationships between the disturbance loads and the VEC data, the health of the four areas was assessed and a qualitative significance-level table was devised based on the characteristics of each activity, the number of campers per activity and the frequency of use throughout the year at the camp. With shelter building and fire building being the most impactful activities, we recommend they be restricted to the high disturbance “E-lodge” area in order to avoid further degradation of other areas. We also recommend the total significance level in any area to not exceed 4. Lastly, educational activities such as invasive species removal and tree or seed planting could be implemented to offset high residual significance activities and to improve the forest experience.
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