First Advisor

Joseph Poracsky

Date of Publication

Winter 2-20-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Olympic Peninsula (Wash.), National parks and reserves -- Public use -- Washington (State) -- Olympic Peninsula, Place attachment -- Washington (State) -- Olympic Peninsula, National parks and reserves -- Public use -- Social aspects -- Washington (State) -- Olympic Peninsula



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 104 pages)


Contested land-management plans make spatial data about values that people attach to the landscape necessary for federal land management. The study area for this project is the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, an area that is divided by a complex mosaic of land jurisdictions, including public lands administered by the National Park Service, National Forest Service, and Washington State, as well as interspersed tribal and private landholdings surrounding the perimeter. During the summer of 2012, I collected map and survey data from visitors at fourteen popular destinations around the Olympic Peninsula, including visitor centers, campgrounds, trail access points, and a ferry. Three research objectives were evaluated in my thesis: 1) determine a general typology of visitors, 2) understand what values and activities visitors associate with places in the peninsula, and 3) compare visitor data with resident data from the Human Ecology Mapping Project (HEM), a collaboration between the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, the Institute of Culture and Ecology, and Portland State University.

Analysis using ArcGIS included density and density hot spot calculations for a composite of the data as well as subsets based on types of visitors and individual values and activities. A majority of the participants were older males with higher education. Results indicate that visitors with different levels of familiarity spend time in different parts of the Peninsula. Aesthetic, recreation, and wilderness are the values most often included in the survey; hiking, non-cardio recreation, and sociocultural are the activity groups most often included in the survey. Visitors primarily mark places in Olympic National Park. Visitors, including those who live locally, responded in strikingly different ways than residents who participated in HEM. This research produced expected results that not only substantiate knowledge about specific places in the Olympic Peninsula, but also support theories about environmental cognition.


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