Portland Parks & Recreation
Date of Award
Master of Environmental Management (MEM)
Environmental Science and Management
Nature trails -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Forest Park (Portland Or), Natural resources -- Oregon -- Management, Wilderness areas -- Recreational use -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area
Forest Park is an appropriately named 5,200 acre natural area located in northwest Portland, Oregon. A recent study estimated park usage near half a million annual visits and found "trails" to be the park’s most highly valued feature. Unfortunately, many trails were not designed for such traffic as evidenced by slipping hazards, erosion and other ecological impacts. In response to these observations, I partnered with Portland Parks & Recreation to conduct an objective trail impact assessment prescribed by the Forest Park Natural Resource Management Plan. I modified methods from past studies to expand on a recently completed trail condition class assessment, which subdivided the Forest Park trail system into four classes of 250-foot trail sections. I observed soil loss and potential drivers at 120 transects in 40 trails sections, then constructed multiple regression models to determine relationships between variables. Results indicated field observed and GIS-derived average percent grade metrics explained soil loss and future assessments might be simplified with less field measurements. I then used these data to define sustainable trail layout based on recent recreation ecology literature. The collective methods of my research provide a template for expanding objective trail impact assessments throughout Forest Park, while results and recommendations can help prioritize management action, inform environmental reviews, and justify funding for trail system improvements.
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Mitchell, James, "Trail Impact Monitoring in Forest Park" (2020). Environmental Science and Management Professional Master's Project Reports. 63.