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San Juan, Puerto Rico

Daily Peak Visitation and Implications for Recreation Management in Puerto Rico

Public land and recreation managers in densely populated areas are concerned about the impact that an increasing number of visitors is having on: (a) the quality of their recreation experience; and (b) the natural environment at recreation sites, as well as water quality at these sites. Models that consider data on average daily peak visitation may be useful in estimating the factors that influence daily peak use, which has direct relevance for recreation impact analysis. Peak daily visitor estimates provided by the daily model may provide an indication of whether a site is likely to be used beyond its social and environmental carrying capacity, thus allowing for the determination of limiting factors. Two multiple regression models are estimated to predict and explain daily visitation and level of visitor satisfaction for two watersheds located in northeastern Puerto Rico: the Mameyes and the Espı´ritu Santo. To further increase the management relevance of these models for evaluating recreation impacts on water quality, we focused on a previously overlooked distinction: counts have been obtained for both visitors recreating in the river and those recreating outside the river. Predicted visitor use levels and satisfaction measures may serve as indicators of social carrying capacity, while the assessment of water quality impacts may serve as indicators of environmental carrying capacity. Carrying capacity indicators at the Mameyes and Espı´ritu Santo River sites indicate that social carrying capacity is the limiting factor. Such estimates may also be helpful in the daily management of forest sites, since daily peak impact analysis could assist managers in assigning daily quotas on visitor use per site. The number of available parking spaces at each river site may prove to be the most important allocation enforcement control variable available to park managers. Finally, the research also examined the relationship between use levels and visitor satisfaction in the context of densely populated tropical forest rivers. Our findings indicate that Puerto Ricans seem to prefer higher densities than those observed in other United States locations, once again showing that the relationship between crowding and satisfaction is generally weak, and may be dependent on cultural factors.

 

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