The effectiveness of interpretation in reducing depreciative behavior in modern campgrounds

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Depreciative behavior is a major problem for managers of recreation areas and for visitors of these areas. Providing information has been suggested as a potential solution to this management problem. The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of interpretation/information and determine the influence of various communication channels and site, situational, and user group characteristics on the effectiveness of information in reducing depreciative behavior (tree damage, litter, and excessive noise) in North Bend Park - a large, modern U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground. A Posttest-Only Control Group experimental design was used to collect data on weekends during the 1981 summer season.

Preliminary data analysis appears to indicate that information was effective in reducing tree damage and litter in a modern campground. The Brochure Alone and Brochure + Personal Contact treatments appear to have been effective in reducing tree damage and litter, but the Brochure + Personal Contact + Involvement treatment appeared ineffective. The three communication channels did not appear to have been very effective, however, in reducing the amount of litter left in the fireplace, the number of tree burns due to lanterns, and the number of incidents of inappropriate noise. There was some evidence also, that type of camping equipment, party type, and previous camping experience at the park were characteristics which influenced the users’ response to the interpretive messages.