Wilderness Connect, housed on the University of Montana campus, acknowledges that we are on the traditional lands of the Salish and Kalispel peoples, who have stewarded this land throughout many generations and are its past, present, and future caretakers.
Recreation Site Monitoring
The Recreation Site Monitoring toolbox includes examples of monitoring programs, protocols, and references for all agencies. Contact us to suggest new materials for inclusion.
The Wilderness Act does not specifically mention recreation sites or monitoring but it does indicate that wilderness areas are "...for the use and enjoyment of the American people..." and they offer "...outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation..." in settings where wilderness character is preserved and natural conditions protected. Recreation site monitoring and the necessary management of recreation sites help ensure that opportunities for wilderness experiences are preserved while adverse impacts to the biophysical components of the wilderness resource as well as wilderness experiences themselves are minimized. Additional and supplemental information can be found in the Visitor Use Management Toolbox.
Recreation site monitoring, most often applied to campsites, is the systematic collection and evaluation of site inventory and condition data to establish a baseline and/or identify changes and trends over time. This information is used for visitor use management and resource protection and help managers prioritize wilderness ranger assignments and project work. The primary purpose of recreation site monitoring in wilderness is to provide essential information for identifying and minimizing the biophysical and social impacts of these sites.
- The NPS has no specific policy with regards to recreation site monitoring. However, it will be contained in a park specific Wilderness Stewardship Plan.
- NPS Management Policies that apply to recreation are in Chapters 6 and 8. Specifically:
- 220.127.116.11 Trails
- 18.104.22.168 Shelters and Campsites
- 6.4.3/22.214.171.124 Recreational Use Management
- 8.2.2 Recreational Activities
Wilderness Stewardship Performance
- Visitor Use Management: Monitoring Visitor Impacts and Use E-course
An on-line training course that contains modules on Monitoring Plan Development and Trail Impact Monitoring.
Examples of Recreation Site Monitoring Programs
Daniel Boone NF
- Wilderness Campsite Monitoring Manual
- Ashdown Gorge Wild Campsite Inventory Spreadsheet
- Monitoring Data Dictionary for Trimble GPS
Note: Once extracted, open ddf file using Pathfinder Office
Glacier National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
- Site Inventory Form
- Site Inventory Form-Cross-Country Zone
- Undesignated Site Inventory Form
- Backcountry Impact Form
San Juan NF
Sierra and Inyo NFs
Other Relevant Toolboxes
Selected aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute Publications
Hall, T. E. and Farrell, T. A. 2001. Fuelwood Depletion at Wilderness Campsites: Extent and Potential Ecosystem Significance. Ecosystem Conservation, 28(3):241-247.
- Cole, D. N. 1989. Wilderness Campsite Monitoring Methods: A Sourcebook. Gen. Tech. Rpt. INT-259. Ogden UT: USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station 60p.
- Cole, D. N. 1989. Area of Vegetation Loss: A New Index of Campsite Impact. Res. Note INT-389. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station 51p.
Developing a Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring Program for Visitor Impacts on Recreation Sites: A Procedural Manual
Marion, Jeffrey, Natural resources Report NPS/NRVT/NRR-91/06, October 1991