Park managers have seldom had the scientific information of recreation and its impacts that they need. Despite allocating substantial portions of park budgets to visitor management, few resources are typically allocated to recreation science. This is hugely problematic. Visitors are a focal species in every park and yet we have little systematic information about how many there are, where they go, what they do, and how they impact the bio- physical resource. In this essay I explore potential reasons why neither managers nor scientists have effectively advocated for a strong recreation science program in the parks and argue that visitor related variables need to be a larger part of every park’s routine data collection program.
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