Activity patterns at Cape Hatteras National Seashore: an analysis of off-road vehicle and pedestrian users among visitors and residents

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to describe the use of Cape Hatteras National Seashore from visitors and local residents of the Outer Banks, and to explore the differences in use for off-road vehicle (ORV) users and pedestrians within each of these user groups. During the summer of 1978, 598 visitors were randomly sampled at Cape Hatteras and sent mail-back questionnaires. Eighty percent of the 598 eligible respondents returned the questionnaire, providing half the data for this study. Four hundred thirty-two local residents were systematically sampled from phone books of residents of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and sent mail-back questionnaires in the winter of 1978. Sixty percent of the 342 eligible respondents returned the questionnaire, providing the other half of the data used in this study.

It was found that the ORV and pedestrian visitors used the seashore quite differently, visiting many locations in different proportions and participating in activities differently. Seasonal and experience-related differences were present. Local resident ORV owners and non-ORV owners were different in their use of Cape Hatteras for recreational purposes as well. The ORV owner was a much more active user of the seashore than the non-ORV owner.

Many implications for planning and management of Cape Hatteras are suggested. Based upon the results obtained, no substantive conclusions can be made about whether user conflict exists between ORV and non-ORV users.