spatial and temporal variation in soil and vegetation impacts on campsites
Marion, J. L.
Cole, D. N.
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We studied the impacts of camping on soil and vegetation at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We assessed the magnitude of impact on campsites that varied in amount of use and in topographic position. We also evaluated change over a 5-yr period on long-established, recently opened, and recently closed campsites, as well as on plots subjected to experimental trampling. Campsite impacts were intense and spatially variable. Amount of use and topographic position explained some of this variation. Soil and vegetation conditions changed rapidly when campsites were initially opened to use and when they were closed to use. Changes were less pronounced on the long-established campsites that remained open to use. In the trampling experiments, impact varied greatly with trampling intensity and between vegetation types. An open-canopy grassland vegetation type was much more resistant to trampling than a forb-dominated forest vegetation type. Campsite impacts increased rapidly with initial disturbance, stabilized with ongoing disturbance, and-in contrast to what has been found in most other studies-decreased rapidly once disturbance was terminated. Implications of these results for campsite management strategies, such as use concentration or dispersal, and rotation or closure of campsites, are discussed.