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Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2006/064

Robert Manning
Megha Budruk

The University of Vermont
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
Burlington, Vermont 05405

October 2006

U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Northeast Region
Boston, Massachusetts


The enabling legislation for Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area (P.L. 104-333) requires that park managers protect and maintain the natural and scientific values of the islands, while at the same time, mandating that managers improve access to the area and enhance public outdoor recreation. Thus, in addition to the balance between resource protection and visitor use typical at all units of the
NPS system, there is the added legislated requirement at Boston Harbor Islands to increase use while protecting resources. It is projected that park visitation to the islands could double over the next few years and quadruple in the foreseeable future. (Two million people can access the islands via public transportation.)

The National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-625) requires that the Boston Harbor Islands general management plan include “identification of and implementation commitments for visitor carrying capacities for all areas of the unit.” In response, the area’s General Management Plan identifies a process for protecting park resources and providing quality visitor experiences through
zoning and the application of carrying capacities to each zone or “use area.” The analysis of carrying capacity is defined as “the character of use that can be supported over a specified time by an area developed at a certain level without causing excessive damage to either the environment or the experience” (Lime and Stankey, 1980).

Establishing both a social and ecological carrying capacity is essential to providing guidance on acceptable visitor use management that might range from area closure (to protect rare species, wildlife habitat, or other sensitive areas), or use dispersal (such as hiking and camping) to concentrating use (such as high density visitation at developed facilities) for the long-term protection and preservation of the natural characteristics of the islands.


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pdf file 1
Body of the Report

pdf file 2
Appendix A

pdf file 3
Appendix B

pdf file 3
Appendix C