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Visitor Preferences for Campfires in US National Forest Developed Campgrounds

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Campfire bans are common in national forests, especially during conditions of high fire danger as managers seek to minimize the potential for wildfire, yet the importance of campfire availability to the camping decision process is less understood. A stated preference approach via an online panel survey was used to examine campsite preferences of recent national forest visitors residing in the western United States. The importance of a campfire relative to five other developed campsite attributes (campground host presence, campsite cost, availability of picnic tables, restroom facilities, and recreational vehicle (RV) hookups at the campsite) is examined. While all six site-specific attributes had a significant impact on consumer utility (P < 0.01), a campfire was the most important of the six site attributes. Overall, respondents valued a campfire as part of their campsite decision process. This offers a challenge for national forest managers, who must carefully balance the conflicting objectives of forest health and public use concerns.

Keywords: campfire; camping preferences; discrete choice analysis; national forest; recreation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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