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Estes Park, CO, United States

Sharpe P.J.,National Park Service | Kneipp G.,National Park Service | Forget A.,Rocky Mountain National Park
Wetlands | Year: 2016

We performed an assessment of U.S. Geological Survey/National Park Service (USGS/NPS) vegetation mapping versus National Wetland Inventory (NWI) estimates of wetland occurrence and extent for three national parks, each having a different NWI mapping scale (1:40,000, 1:58,000, and 1:80,000). Our prediction was that the USGS/NPS mapping would be significantly more effective than NWI in predicting total wetland area within each park, and would commit fewer errors of omission and commission. For use as a control group, each park had recent wetland field determination data collected in accordance with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers protocols. Contrary to our prediction, mean NWI wetland area estimates were more accurate than USGS/NPS mapping at the 1:40,000 and 58,000 scales. At the 1:80,000 scale, NWI and USGS/NPS estimates were similar. NWI wetland area estimates were not significantly different (α = 0.05) from the control data at two of the study parks, whereas USGS/NPS estimates were significantly larger than the control group at two of the three parks. This research highlights the relative strength of NWI mapping for landscape level wetland analysis, and the need to support remote sensing data by allocating field resources for accuracy assessment in specific areas based on management goals. © 2016 US Government Source

Meldrum B.,Visitor Use and Social Science Branch | Meldrum B.,University of Arizona | Lawson S.,Resource Systems Group | Reigner N.,University of Vermont | Pettebone D.,Rocky Mountain National Park
Park Science | Year: 2012

The Half Dome Trail (HDT) hike has long been the setting of an iconic experience in Yosemite National Park. The trail takes visitors up the only route accessing the summit without technical climbing. Over time, it has transformed from a historic multiday wilderness experience to an ambitious, and frequently epic, day hike. This 16-mile (26 km) hike ascending 4,000 ft. (1,219 m) is a significant undertaking that ends with the last 400 ft (122 m) of the ascent exposed and on a cables structure. In recent years as visitation has increased, numerous search-and-rescue incidents have taken place on and around the cables. This trend led park management to investigate visitor use on the trail system leading to Half Dome, including behaviors on the cables. This article describes a series of scientific investigations applied to inform and further frame management of visitor use along the HDT. Notably, results from visitor use measurement, simulation modeling, and monitoring of visitor movements provide a basis for standards that frame acceptable conditions. Source

Taff D.,Colorado State University | Newman P.,Colorado State University | Pettebone D.,Rocky Mountain National Park | White D.D.,Arizona State University | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Transport Geography | Year: 2013

Increasingly the National Park Service (NPS) is using Alternative Transportation Systems (ATS) to accommodate escalating visitation. Understanding factors that influence visitors' transportation-related decision making is essential to developing effective management strategies that will not only decrease reliance on personal vehicles but also encourage shuttle ridership and improve visitor experiences. Survey research, conducted in Yosemite (2007) and Rocky Mountain National Park (2008) examined visitor perspectives toward the ATS experience. Three important factors: ease, freedom and stress, were identified by analyzing visitor data from each park using both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. The similarity in results between studies indicate that ATS related services, including infrastructure and messaging themes, could be standardized at Yosemite and Rocky Mountain, and used to inform park management procedures at other NPS units. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Lawson S.,Resource Systems Group Inc. | Chamberlin R.,Resource Systems Group Inc. | Choi J.,Resource Systems Group Inc. | Swanson B.,Resource Systems Group Inc. | And 5 more authors.
Transportation Research Record | Year: 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) was one of the first national parks to adopt an alternative transportation system: a shuttle bus system initiated in 1978. To address parking lot shortages while accommodating growing numbers of park visitors, RMNP expanded its shuttle bus service in 2001. Although the expanded shuttle service has helped to alleviate parking congestion at popular trailheads, expansion may also be enabling levels of visitation that cause or exacerbate visitor crowding. Thus, there is a need to evaluate and potentially refine RMNP's shuttle service according to the amount of visitor use that can be accommodated at popular destinations in the park without unacceptable effects on the quality of visitors' experiences. This study evaluated and quantified transportation system performance and visitor crowding at popular recreation sites in the Bear Lake Road corridor resulting from RMNP's shuttle service operations. The study used integrated transportation and visitor use modeling to provide quantitative estimates of the extent of parking congestion, transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, transit operating costs per passenger, and visitor crowding associated with existing and alternative transit service operations scenarios. The National Park Service will use information from the study to refine the operation of shuttle service in RMNP in a manner that both optimizes transportation system performance and protects the quality of visitors' experiences. Further, the study framework can be generalized to other public lands units to design and operate transit service in accordance with transportation, resource, and visitor experience objectives. Source

West A.M.,Colorado State University | Kumar S.,Colorado State University | Wakie T.,Colorado State University | Brown C.S.,Colorado State University | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

National Parks are hallmarks of ecosystem preservation in the United States. The introduction of alien invasive plant species threatens protection of these areas. Bromus tectorum L. (commonly called downy brome or cheatgrass), which is found in Rocky Mountain National Park (hereafter, the Park), Colorado, USA, has been implicated in early spring competition with native grasses, decreased soil nitrogen, altered nutrient and hydrologic regimes, and increased fire intensity. We estimated the potential distribution of B. tectorum in the Park based on occurrence records (n = 211), current and future climate, and distance to roads and trails. An ensemble of six future climate scenarios indicated the habitable area of B. tectorum may increase from approximately 5.5% currently to 20.4% of the Park by the year 2050. Using ordination methods we evaluated the climatic space occupied by B. tectorum in the Park and how this space may shift given future climate change. Modeling climate change at a small extent (1,076 km2) and at a fine spatial resolution (90 m) is a novel approach in species distribution modeling, and may provide inference for microclimates not captured in coarse-scale models. Maps from our models serve as high-resolution hypotheses that can be improved over time by land managers to set priorities for surveys and removal of invasive species such as B. tectorum. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All rights reserved. Source

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