Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Recreation and Park Administration

First Advisor

Ryan L. Sharp

Department Affiliation

Recreation and Park Administration

Second Advisor

Michael J. Bradley

Department Affiliation

Recreation and Park Administration

Third Advisor

Stephanie McSpirit

Department Affiliation

Recreation and Park Administration


Recreation ecology began in the 1960s to measure the impacts of recreation on ecosystems. Area of environmental impact is an important objective to assess recreational impact. However, few researchers have examined the trends of these impacts over time. This study measures the environmental area of impact at eight climbing areas, in Red River Gorge, Kentucky, over a six year period, to determine impact trends. The results of this research will help recreation ecologists and land managers understand environmental impacts over time, and possibly predict future impact scenarios. The hypothesis of this research is the total mean area of impact at the climb areas in 2007 and again in 2013 will change insignificantly. The findings support this hypothesis. Six of the eight climb areas resulted in insignificant change in area of impact over six years. Application of mitigation strategies by land managers may therefore be more effective at reducing impact areas. Longer duration impact trend studies should be conducted to verify there is a consistent impact threshold at climb areas. Determination of this threshold, and how to build a predictive model, should also be considered in the future. Also, further research replicating this study should be conducted at climbing areas with different environmental and social conditions.