Date of Award

5-2008

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Jessica Leahy

Second Committee Member

John Daigle

Third Committee Member

Harold Daniel

Abstract

The rate of obesity and its negatively associated health conditions in the United States has steadily risen over the past twenty years; concurrently, visitation to our National Parks has been on the decline. Notably both matters can be addressed by promoting the attainable benefits of physical activity in our National Parks. In 2002, President Bush established the Healthier US initiative (executive order #13266) requesting all public land agencies to advocate recreation areas as a source of health benefits. The National Parks are often overlooked as a source of healthful recreation. Before land managers can effectively manage and promote available recreational opportunities, benefit importance and preferences of visitors need to be assessed. The Great Meadow Loop Trail (GMLT) in Acadia National Park served as the experimental site for the study. As a trail that experienced minimal use, it was well suited for the study. Over July and August of 2007 three hundred and forty four on-site surveys where collected. July served to measure "typical" use and reasons for use of the trail, on August 1st a local media campaign was put in place, and surveying was repeated. This research is composed of two manuscripts, both uniquely investigating the impacts of a media campaign on recreationists. Manuscript I titled "Media Campaigns Impacts on Promoting Physical Activity Among Acadia National Parks Visitors" investigates the effects of a media campaign to increasing visitation to the GMLT. It also examines the success of the media campaign's elements in making recreationists aware of the GMLT, and the campaigns success in changing visitor attitudes about the importance of health benefits. Manuscript II titled "Increasing Local and Visitor Physical Activity through Media Messages: A Specialized Benefits-Based Management Application at Acadia National Park" identifies visitor importance of physical and mental health benefits within a benefits-based framework. Utilizing questions from the Recreational Experience Preference scale it also attempts to segment recreationists into benefits-based market segments.

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