Backcountry Recreation Site and Trail Conditions

Haleakala National Park

Changing visitor use levels and patterns have contributed to increasing visitor use impacts to natural and cultural resources in specific areas at Haleakalā National Park.

by U.S. Geological Survey

At Haleakalā National Park, changing visitor use levels and patterns have contributed to an increasing degree of visitor use impacts to natural and cultural resources in specific areas of the park. To better understand the extent and severity of these resource impacts and identify effective management techniques, the park sponsored this research to develop monitoring protocols, collect baseline data, and identify options for management strategies.

Park managers operate under legislative mandates to provide appropriate recreational opportunities while protecting and preserving park resources and natural processes. While a variety of recreational uses, including trail-related activities, are clearly appropriate, park managers must also ensure that they avoid significant impairment of natural and cultural resources. As described in the Introduction section, park managers are charged with applying their professional judgment in evaluating the type and extent of recreation-related impacts when judging what constitutes impairment. This report provides useful information for rendering such determinations and provides a basis for decisions to enhance the management of visitors and resources to avoid or minimize recreation impacts.

This research developed and applied state-of-the-art recreation site and trail condition assessment and monitoring procedures and applied them to the park‘s backcountry recreation sites and trails.

A variety of recreation site and trail condition indicators were identified in consultation with park staff for potential use in the future in the NPS Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP) carrying capacity planning and decision-making. Protocols were developed, field-tested, and applied with results fully summarized for use in selecting standards of quality. Park staff participated in the field assessments and were trained for future application of monitoring procedures.

Attached document published May 2009

About the Author


Created by an act of Congress in 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey has evolved over the ensuing 125 years, matching its talent and knowledge to the progress of science and technology. The USGS is the sole science agency for the Department of the Interior. It is sought out by thousands of partners and customers for its natural science expertise and its vast earth and biological data holdings.

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