Title page for ETD etd-05162007-112339


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kiser, Brett Christopher
Author's Email Address bkiser@vt.edu
URN etd-05162007-112339
Title Assessing the Reliability of Computer Simulation Modeling for Monitoring and Managing Indicators of Wilderness Solitude in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Degree Master of Science
Department Forestry
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Lawson, Steven R. Committee Chair
Marion, Jeffrey L. Committee Member
Pasupathy, Raghu Committee Member
Keywords
  • wilderness solitude
  • wilderness
  • monitoring
  • computer simulation modeling
  • visitor experiences
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • protected area management
Date of Defense 2007-05-07
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Several studies in the field of outdoor recreation management and planning have used computer simulation modeling to demonstrate its utility as a tool to help managers monitor encounters and similar visitor use-related indicators of quality. However, previous applications of computer simulation modeling to outdoor recreation planning and management have generally done little to assess the reliability, or precision, of model estimates. The purpose of this research is to explore several questions concerning the reliability of computer simulation model estimates for monitoring wilderness solitude-related indicators of quality. In particular, can reliable estimates of solitude-related indicators be generated for low use recreation environments, such as backcountry and wilderness areas? Is there a spatial component to questions about the reliability of computer simulation estimates for low use visitor landscapes? The research presented in this thesis examines the reliability of computer simulation estimates of wilderness solitude indicators that account for the timing and location of hiking and camping encounters in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This study was designed to model visitor use and inter-group encounters in the Cosby and Big Creek areas of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which are located within the park’s proposed wilderness area. Two primary types of information about visitor use in the study area were collected to construct the computer simulation model in this study. First, information was gathered about the amount of visitation to the study area; second, information was collected about visitors’ travel routes within the study area.

Three alternative methods were used to estimate the number of replications needed to obtain desired levels of precision for the visitor-based and spatially based computer simulation model outputs. The results suggest that computer simulation models of visitor use can generate precise estimates for a small to moderate number of visitor-based and spatially-based outputs. However, there are constraints to generating precise estimates of use-related outputs as the number of outputs estimated simultaneously becomes large. This challenge is particularly pronounced in cases where at least some of the outputs are derived for low use attractions, trails, or camping locations.

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