SOCIO-6: July 2000 Progress Report

"What are the supplies of and demands for forest based recreation and other noncommodity uses of forests in the South?"

Ken Cordell

July 18-19, 2000, Nashville TN

Specific points to be addressed in answering this question:

  1. Evaluate the relationships between forest management and forest types and recreation opportunities.
  2. Evaluate opportunities for developing new sources of recreation supply.
  3. Evaluate the potential for conflicts between different forms of recreations.
  4. Address the roles of different landowner groups in providing recreation.
  5. Inventory forest-based recreation opportunities.
  6. What are the adverse impacts of recreation activities on forested and aquatic ecosystems and where are they located...


Outdoor recreation is a rapidly growing use of forested land and water in the South (Cordell 1999). Driven by population, demographic and land use changes, growth and diversification of demand has many implications. Socially, plentiful and varied opportunities available across the spectrum of southern society contributes to quality of life. Economically, outdoor recreation and resource-based tourism provide major sources of income and employment to Southern communities. For forest ecosystems, growing recreation demand can act as a stressor on components of those systems, i.e., wildlife, water, and vegetation.

Recreation uses of forests is fast becoming one of the dominant uses in some areas of the South. Especially on public lands and in the Southern Appalachian and Interior highlands, this domination can result in limitations on management options. Addressing this question as part of the Southern Forest Resource Assessment will help shed light on the social, economic and ecological roles of outdoor recreation.

Methods of analysis: The primary focus of this portion of the assessment will be to describe the demand and supply trends occurring in the South and the relationships of those trends to forests. A secondary focus will be to describe other non-commodity forest uses.

Recreation demand and supply analyses will be drawn mostly from data bases developed for the 2000 national Renewable Resources Planning Act Assessment of Outdoor Recreation and Wilderness (Cordell 1999). Demand will be measured as quantity consumed (participation) in outdoor recreation activities that typically occur in forested settings in the South. Supply will be measured as the area of forests available and the quantity of sites, facilities and services provided by both the private and public sectors. Both demand and supply data are available at county scale which will enable spatial analysis and mapping of demand/supply spatial patterns.(1)

Forest area by stand type at county level is also available to enable overlaying recreation demand/supply patterns with forest type occurrence. Forest management data are more problematic at the desired scale of county. Both trends and current levels of recreation demand and supply can be described adequately at county scale. Describing non-commodity uses (including non-timber forest uses) will be much more difficult. For this assessment, non-commodity uses will include subsistence uses, gathering forest products and scenery enhancement, to the extent data and published literature permit. Direct data are available only for some forest gathering activities. These activities include gathering mushrooms, berries, cones, flora, roots, stones, firewood, bait, and specimens. Assessment of subsistence uses and scenery enhancement uses will rely mostly on reviews of previous writings and anecdotal information from popular media and other non-technical sources. Little research is known to have been done covering these uses in the South. Some work has been done in the Pacific Northwest and will be a beginning point for our work.

In addition to the primary question addressing demand and supply of outdoor recreation, the following sub-questions will be addressed up to the limits of available data and reported research:

a. Relationships between forest management, forest types and recreation opportunities. Recreation opportunities can be measured in a number of ways. Typically opportunity measures include quantification of the area and number of facilities available across a variety of ownerships and physiographic settings. In order to look at the relationship between forest management, forest types and recreation opportunities, data for all three of these dimensions will be needed at the same scale of resolution, preferably county level. "Available" recreation areas and facilities means open and accessible to the public for free or for fee. Almost all public land is open, some private lands are open. Data exist at county scale for area and facilities at the Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Athens, Georgia.

Forest management scenarios will include a spectrum of forest land management intensities ranging from maximum fiber production, short-rotation plantations to forest areas preserved as wilderness. At this point, it is not clear what sources of data are available, but we will interpret forest land management to mean "intensity" of silvicultural treatments for wood fiber production. The following are verbatim descriptions of indicators used to define managed lands from the TIMBR-2 Question:

"Managed lands: ...various forest management practices and management regimes across ownerships, ecological units, and in total (include) 1) acres and types of regeneration cuttings, 2) intermediate stand management practices (e.g., thinnings), 3) rotation/cutting cycle, 4) chemical applications, 5) prescribed burning 6), use of genetically improved stock 7) even-aged, two-aged and uneven-aged silviculture, 8) no manipulative activity by design."

The finest scale of data describing forest management intensity available will be used. Desirable are data at county resolution to match the scale at which recreation opportunity data are available. If doable, the desired measure would be proportion of county forest area by levels of forest management intensity. From FIA data, the closest we may be able to come to estimating area by intensity of management is forest area that is either planted or natural, forest area needing no silvicultural treatment (implying recent treatments), and forest area at varying levels of "inhibiting" vegetation.

Similarly, forest types will include a spectrum of forest types from those that are predominantly pine to those predominantly hardwood. Little direct research has been done to assess the relationship between forest types and outdoor recreation opportunities. Limited work on visual quality associated with stand conditions will be used to speculate about the recreation supply implications of a range of forest types.

From the Forest Inventory and Analysis web site, the following forest types have been delineated and could also be used to segment recreation opportunities at county resolution.(2)

Elm-ash-cottonwood--Forests in which elms, ashes, or cottonwood, singly or in combination, comprise a plurality of the stocking. Common associates include willow, sycamore, American beech, and maples.

Loblolly-shortleaf pine--Forest in which pines (except longleaf and slash pines) and eastern red cedar, singly or in combination, comprise a plurality of the stocking. Common associates include oaks, hickories, and gums.

Longleaf-slash pine--Forests in which longleaf or slash pines, singly or in combination, comprise a plurality of the stocking. Common associates include other southern pines, oaks, and gums.

Nontyped--Timberland currently unoccupied by any live trees or seedlings; for example, very recent clearcut areas.

Oak-gum-cypress--Bottomland forests in which tupelo, blackgum, sweetgum, oaks, or southern cypress, singly or in combination, comprise a plurality of the stocking, except where pines comprise 25 to 49 percent, in which case the stand would be classified oak-pine. Common associates include cottonwoods, willows, ashes, elms, hackberry, and maples.

Oak-hickory--Forests in which upland oaks or hickories, singly or in combination, comprise a plurality of the stocking, except where pines comprise 25 to 49 percent, in which case the stand would be classified oak-pine. Common associates include yellow-poplar, elms, maples, and black walnut.

Oak-pine--Forests in which hardwoods (usually upland oaks) comprise a plurality of the stocking, but in which softwoods, except cypress, comprise 25 to 49 percent of the stocking. Common associates include gums, hickories, and yellow-poplar.

b. Demand for new sources of recreation supply. Populations grow and change. The contemporary population of the South is rapidly changing in makeup and in lifestyles. To address this sub-question, an analysis of population change and its makeup will be conducted for subregions to identify the nature of the changes that are occurring. At the same time, participation across a spectrum of activities will be analyzed to identify correlations with demographic characteristics and population density of residence area. These correlations will be used to identify where recreation demands are likely to shift because of demographic shifts and population growth. Recreation demand shifts will be interpreted as pressures to provide either or both more and different mixes of recreation opportunities, i.e., supply. Recent trends in demand will be examined to identify fast growing new forms of outdoor recreation engagement which may not be driven by demographic shifts as much as they are driven by advances in technology.

c. Conflicts between different recreation uses. Research has explored conflicts between motorized and non-motorized uses, horse and pedestrian trail uses, consumptive and non-consumptive uses and solitude and group uses. Literature from this research will be the primary source for addressing this sub-question.

d. Roles of different land owners in providing recreation opportunities. The types of land owners to be addressed include the different federal ownerships, state government, industry, large individual ownerships and small individual ownerships. Make up of these owners' forest holdings, legislative mandates, and access policies will be examined in describing the differences in roles that exist.

e. Adverse impacts of recreation on forest and aquatic ecosystems. Little work on the direct impact of recreation use has been done, except for campsite and on trail impacts. Thus, much of the assessment of adverse impact will be speculative based on extrapolation from what is known in the literature. In addition to speculation, however, spatial analysis will be conducted to identify where recreation pressures on forest resources are occurring in the South. A selected few of the thusly identified local "hotspots" will be examined in more detail to describe extant conditions and likely long-term impacts.

Data Sources:

The primary sources of data will include:

  • Demand data will be drawn from the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) done in 1995 and going on now in 2000. NSRE 1995 and 2000 are the 6th and 7th, respectively, in the Nation's on-going series of National Recreation Surveys. The first was started under the Eisenhower Administration in 1957. Included in the data are participation, attitudes, travel patterns, intensity of participation and demographics (Cordell 1999). Other sources of data will include industry data from the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America and the National Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
  • Supply data will be drawn from the National Outdoor Recreation Supply Information System developed by the Forest Service for national coverage of federal, state, local, and private sector supply information (Betz 1999).
  • Data describing the access practices of private land owners will be taken from the National Private Land Owners Survey (NPLOS). NPLOS covers landowner objectives, tract description, land uses, environmental attitudes, leasing, and demographics (Teasley 1999).
  • The Woods and Poole Econometric projections and Bureau of Census Survey of Current Population will be used to obtain data to describe demographic trends in the South.


  • A 25-page publication-quality report with maps and illustrations
  • A web site summary with fuller coverage of enhanced maps and graphics
  • A Power Point presentation with high quality graphics and photographs for use in presentations and as a source of general summary information accessible via the internet
  • A CD with color enhanced and voice explained maps and graphics based primarily on the presentation produced above.

Collaborators and Sources:

The principal collaborators will be faculty at the University of Georgia and at other universities in the South. Much of the data and secondary source information are already in hand in the Southern Research Station unit in Athens Georgia.

Links to other questions:

The principal link will be to Social/Economic question 4d. This subquestion asks about NIPF land owners' perspectives on the use of their forests for recreation and other uses. The NPLOS data base will be shared with the manager of this question.

Unresolved Issues:

The principal unresolved issue is identifying and describing linkages between forest management, forest type and recreation supply. To our knowledge, little research has addressed theses linkages. Similarly, little research has been done to assess non-commodity uses of forests, other than recreation. In both of these instances of unresolved issues, heavy reliance on published literature will be given.

Cited and Other Relevant Literature:

Betz, Carter and Ken Cordell. 1999. The National Outdoor Recreation Supply Information System. Unpublished documentation of the NPLOS data base, Spring, 1999, Athens, GA.

Cordell, H. Ken et al. 1999. Outdoor Recreation in American Life. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, Sagamore Publishing, 449 pages.

Teasley, Jeffery et al. 1999. Private Lands and Outdoor Recreation in the United States. Chapter 4 in Outdoor Recreation in American Life. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, Sagamore Publishing, 183-218.

1. Because in- house data reflects demand for recreation trips at point of origin (county of residence), models or protocols for translating participation data from point of origin to destination recreation area will need to be developed for this assessment.

2. Note: FIA inventories provide reliable estimates for large sampling areas. As data are subdivided into smaller and smaller areas, such as a county, the sampling errors increase and the reliability of the estimates decreases. For example, a State with 5 million acres of timberland would have a maximum allowable sampling error of 1.3 percent, a geographic unit within that State with 1 million acres of timberland would have a 3.0 percent maximum allowable sampling error, and a county within that State with 100 thousand acres would have a 9.5 percent maximum allowable sampling error at the 67-percent level.



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