Why does this research matter?
People are recreating in more places, more often, and going farther and faster than ever before. This can be commercial or recreational mountain biking, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, and other off-highway vehicle recreation.
Without careful planning, this growth can unintentionally add pressure to wild places and species, increase tensions across users, and affect the quality of our outdoor experiences.
Recreation and tourism are important economic factors in this region so it is important to maintain quality experiences. Groups including local governments, First Nations, adventure tourism businesses, recreationists, and conservationists, have identified concerns about the places that they work, live, and play — including a need for better recreation management. These needs have been stated at meetings, in letters and in a 2019 emerging economies report from Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. However, there is little quality data on recreational trail use, so a research project is now under way to understand more.
The goal of this collaborative research project is to understand when, where, and how people are recreating in the Upper Columbia. This will allow people recreating to continue to access the places they love, ensures wildlife are able to thrive, and make space for everyone to enjoy the outdoors.
See where, how, and how many people are outdoors
Open source data including trail counters, social media and smartphone apps collected on trails and from recreation hotspots will provide information for the project such as how many people recreate in different areas, when and what they like to do.
Address the needs of people and nature
Find the spots where better planning can improve recreation experiences, improve relations among groups, and help manage the needs of sensitive animals.
Keep people and wildlife safe
Looking into how grizzly bears, cougars, wolverines, bighorn sheep, goats, and native trout use habitat shared with people will identify places and times of year where recreation might affect these species. This will help create solutions and recommendations to keep all of us safer.