Applying novel visitation models using diverse social media to understand recreation change after wildfire and site closure


Natural disturbances such as wildfires are increasing in severity and frequency. Although the ecological impacts of disturbance are well documented, we have limited understanding of how disturbances and associated management responses influence recreation use patterns. This reflects, in part, difficulty in quantifying recreation use across different land ownerships with inconsistent, or non-existent, recreation monitoring practices. In this study, we use visitation models based on social media to examine how recreation use changed after a wildfire and site closures in a large, mixed-ownership landscape. We find that wildfire and associated closures resulted in visitation loss to the recreation system as a whole and little site-to-site displacement within the system in the two years following the wildfire. Our study highlights the importance, when considering how wildfire and management may alter recreation use patterns, of considering the many factors that influence substitution behavior, including the relative locations of visitor origins, disturbances, and substitute sites.

Society & Natural Resources