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Document: Quantifying Recreational Use of an Estuary: A case study of three bays, Cape Cod, USA (Doc-387)

Mulvaney, K K., Atkinson, S.F., Merrill, N.H., Twichell, J.H., and M.J. Mazzotta
Quantifying Recreational Use of an Estuary: A case study of three bays, Cape Cod, USA
Document Type
Estimates of the types and number of recreational users visiting an estuary are critical data fo,r quantifying the value of recreation and how that value might change with variations in water quality or other management decisions. However, estimates of recreational use are minimal and conventional intercept surveys methods are often infeasible for widespread application to estuaries. Therefore, a practical observational sampling approach was developed to quantify the recreational use of an estuary without the use of surveys. Designed to be simple and fast to allow for replication, the methods involved the use of periodic instantaneous car counts multiplied by extrapolation factors derived from all-day counts. This simple sampling approach can be used to estimate visitation to diverse types of access points on an estuary in a single day as well as across multiple days. Evaluation of this method showed that when periodic counts were taken within a preferred time window (from 11am-4:30pm), the estimates were within 44 percent of actual daily visitation. These methods were applied to the Three Bays estuary system on Cape Cod, USA. The estimated combined use across all its public access sites is similar to the use at a mid-sized coastal beach, demonstrating the value of estuarine systems. Further, this study is the first to quantify the variety and magnitude of recreational uses at several different types of access points throughout the estuary using observational methods. This work can be transferred to the many small coastal access points used for recreation across New England and beyond.
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