Archived Workshops/References

Managing Visitor Use in Natural Areas


California's Central Coast is both a hot spot of biological diversity and one of the most popular tourist destinations in California. Natural lands managers in this area are attempting to balance the needs of numerous endangered species with a burgeoning number of hikers, bikers, surfers, hang gliders, tide poolers, birders....etc...and their pets.

The Coastal Training Program recognizes a need to provide the latest science to managers of public access in natural areas. We provide ongoing training on access planning, best techinques to alleviate visitor impacts, and professional sharing of the many managers who face such similar issues in our region.

If you have particular questions or issues with visitor impacts in natural areas, please feel free to drop us a line to see if we can help.

Training Programs

Managing Visitor Use in Coastal and Marine Protected Areas Jan 12, 2004 - Jan 14, 2004
Managing Visitor Use for Snowy Plover Recovery on the Monterey Bay Jun 14, 2006
Managing Visitor Use in Coastal and Marine Protected Areas Jan 11, 2017 - Jan 12, 2017

Documents and Publications

Otter's Recreation Impact Theorem
Jul 17 07
Lee Otter

Evidence that human disturbance reduces Snowy Plover chick survival
PDF, 119KB
Jun 13 06
Tamiko D. Ruhlen, Sue Abbott, Lynne E. Stenzel, and Gary W. Page
Journal of Field Ornithology 74(3):300-304
Disturbance from human recreation may impact vulnerable life stages of beach-nesting plovers (Charadrius spp.). Although human recreation may decrease hatching success of Snowy Plovers (C. alexandrinus), we are unaware of any studies indicating an impact on chick survival. We tested whether the rate of chick loss in a breeding population of Snowy Plovers was lower on weekdays than on weekends and holidays, when beach visitation increases in most coastal areas. We used data collected on chick survival and the timing of chick loss in 1999 and 2000 at Point Reyes National Seashore, California. Observed weekend and holiday chick loss was 72% greater than expected in 1999 and 69% greater than expected in 2000. This suggests that increased human recreation on Point Reyes beaches over weekends and holidays negatively affected Snowy Plover chick survival.
The effect of human activities on migrant shorebirds: successful adaptive management
PDF, 521KB
Feb 23 07
Joanna Burger, Christian Jeitner, Kathleen Clark, and Lawrence J. Niles
Environmental Conservation 31(4):283-288
Bird species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
May 25 06

This is a list of which bird species are protected in which regions covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
California Recreational Trails Plan (Phase 1)
PDF, 1.1MB
May 25 06
California Department of Parks and Recreation
California Department of Parks and Recreation
June 2002
"Phase One of the California Recreational Trails Plan update provides the initial sketch pad for the subsequent development of a more comprehensive Phase Two plan. It serves as a general guide for trail advocates and local trail management agencies and organizations in planning future trails and developing trails-related programs. The Phase Two plan will utilize the best of this plan as a guide, and will incorporate hard data and generally accepted planning strategies and practices, including additional public input and comment."
California State Parks Carrying Capacity Regulatory Language
May 25 06
State of California
Public Resources Code
This is the exact language of the California regulation requiring Califoria State Parks to undertake a carrying capacity analysis when planning for their parks.
Examples of California State Parks' Carrying Capacity Analysis
May 25 06
Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program
Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program
Castle Rock and Anza Borrego State Park carrying capacity analyses as required by California State Law.
Maintaining the quality of park resources and visitor experiences: A handbook for managers
PDF, 2.2MB
May 25 06
Dorothy Anderson, David Lime, and Theresa Wang
Cooperative Park Studies Unit, Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota
September 1998
The purpose of this handbook is twofold: (1) to provide resource managers with a step-by-step, easy to use process for identifying and defining unacceptable impacts to biological and cultural resources and to visitor experiences, and (2) to identify a range of strategies and tactics managers can use to address unacceptable impacts to resources and experiences. The handbook was commissioned by the National Park Service (Denver Service Center) as a complement to its Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP) framework, which was developed to address carrying capacity questions concerning visitor-caused resource impacts and impacts to the quality of visitor experiences (USDI, NPS 1997a,b). Although the handbook can be used by managers who have implemented VERP or other planning frameworks, such as Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) and Visitor Impact Management (VIM), it also can be used by managers where such frameworks have not been applied or used to address visitor-caused problems.
Notes on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
May 25 06
Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program
Some notes outlining portions of the language of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Public access and wildlife compatibility
PDF, 142KB
May 25 06
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
March 2001
This document reviews what is known about wildlife disturbances and public access; it also sets forth new legislation and regulations for the San Francisco Bay area.
VERP Handbook
PDF, 821KB
May 25 06
US Department of Interior, National Park Service
US Department of Interior
September 1997
In 1992 the National Park Service (NPS) began developing the Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP) framework to address visitor use management and carrying capacity issues in the units of the national park system. Arches National Park was the first unit in which the VERP process was tested. Interest in the VERP framework in the National Park Service has subsequently soared, and additional applications are now underway in several park units. Interest has also been expressed by other management agencies both in this country and internationally. This handbook is intended to provide sufficient guidance so that a NPS planner, resource manager, or other practitioner assigned to undertake VERP planning can do so with confidence. However, even with this handbook a practitioner will need to have initiative and creativity, be willing to experiment, and be able to make judgement calls in order to successfully carry out a VERP effort. Frequent communication with individuals involved in other VERP efforts may also be helpful. It must be stressed that this handbook is not meant to be a complete guide on how to do general planning for parks. Many important topics that should be considered in the development of park plans, such as the treatment of issues, public involvement, and the assessment of alternatives, are discussed briefly or not at all. Readers should refer to the NPS Park Planning Guidelines and the Park Planning Sourcebook (both in preparation) for more details on park planning.