Using Social Media Data to Improve Estimates of Wilderness Demand and Value

Project: Research project

Project Details


In this project, we will explore the use of social media data for improving estimates of Wilderness use, demand and value at various spatial scales. This objective will be accomplished for select wilderness areas in which both social media and wilderness permit data are available for the same time periods. One advantage of social media data, such as Flickr photos, is that observations are recorded along trails (and not just at trailhead locations). This finer spatial scale can then be linked with measurements of wilderness character such as landscape characteristics, trail or campsite degradation, and human congestion providing a richer understanding of wilderness demand and the sustainability of wilderness values.

Although several Wilderness areas will be considered for inclusion in this project, a priority application will be to study recreational use within the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness area in Colorado. Managers of this Wilderness are concerned with protecting the ecological integrity of a core zone for which new Maroon Bells permits are required. This project will address questions regarding the degree to which social media data can be used to track visitation to areas of special concern.
Effective start/end date6/25/1812/31/19


  • USDA: Forest Service (FS): $15,007.00


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