Outdoor recreation at the wildland-urban interface: examining human activity patterns and compliance with dog management policies
Kellner, A and Carver, S and Gramza, A and Lewis, JS and VandeWoude, S and Crooks, KR, Outdoor recreation at the wildland-urban interface: examining human activity patterns and compliance with dog management policies, Natural Areas Journal, 37, (4) pp. 515-529. ISSN 0885-8608 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Recreational use of public land is high and rising. Thus, it is critical to understand the dynamics of land use at the wildland—urban interface so managers can simultaneously meet varying human needs while mitigating environmental impacts caused by recreationists and their canine companions. Using motion-activated camera surveys along official trails near the urban edge of Boulder, Colorado, we quantified daily patterns and the relative frequency of human recreational activities, with particular focus on activities involving domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and human compliance with dog regulations. We also tested hypotheses regarding potential predictors of human activity as well as predictors of human accompaniment by dogs, both on-leash and off, and user compliance with leash laws. Pedestrians used the trail system most frequently, followed by dog-walkers, mountain bikers, and recreationists of other types, with activity peaking in the mornings and evenings. Use of open space lands was primarily, and positively, predicted by the presence of scenic vistas or trails on which users could be accompanied by their dogs. Compliance with dog regulations depended on the type of policy imposed, with stricter and more consistent restrictions resulting in fewer violations. This study suggests that to maximize compliance with leash laws, consistent policies may be more effective than temporally varying leash laws. Additionally, it may be beneficial to increase enforcement at peak times for all trails, and at all times on trails where violations are more likely, such as those with seasonal leash laws.