Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods to Inform Management of the Cadillac Mountain Summit, Acadia National Park
Bullock, Steven David
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Included in this thesis are two papers describing companion studies which employed complementary methodologies to study the issue of how Acadia National Park might balance resource protection efforts and maintain quality visitor experiences on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. In the first study, stated choice analysis was used to assess visitors' preferences for alternative combinations of public access, resource protection, visitor regulation, and site hardening to manage the Cadillac Mountain summit. Results suggest that visitors consider resource protection to be a priority and are willing to accept regulation of their behavior onsite, reinforced with the use of moderately to highly intensive management structures, but generally don't support limiting public access to the summit to achieve resource protection objectives. In the second study, qualitative interviews were conducted to provide an in-depth understanding of visitor experiences on the summit of Cadillac Mountain and how site management actions designed to achieve resource protection objectives might affect visitors' experiences. Respondents indicated that the summit of Cadillac Mountain is a centerpiece of Acadia National Park, and their experiences of the mountain summit are centered around the aesthetics and naturalness of Cadillac Mountain. Several factors emerged as influencing whether site management actions are deemed appropriate by visitors and perceived to affect visitors' experiences. In particular, site management structures that were perceived to blend in with the surroundings, be constructed of natural materials and protect vegetation were considered appropriate and of little consequence to visitors' experiences. Some study participants also suggested that site management structures that provide visitors with the opportunity to freely demonstrate their choice to help protect vegetation and soils can enhance visitors' experiences. In contrast, site management structures and actions perceived as being regulatory, confining, or limiting opportunities for visitors to choose to help protect vegetation resources were considered less appropriate and more likely to negatively affect visitors' experiences.
- Masters Theses