Date of Award

5-2013

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Jessica E. Leahy

Second Committee Member

Kathleen P. Bell

Third Committee Member

Louis Morin

Abstract

As the thesis title indicates, this research is about public recreation access to private land in the state of Maine. Private landowners that allow the public to use their land for recreation are vital in the state of Maine because only six percent of the land area is publicly owned and recreation contributes over one billion dollars annually to the state economy - this recreation occurs mainly on private land. Recent studies show that public access to private land has declined dramatically in Maine and across the nation. This research focuses on family forest owners, defined as owning between 10 and 1,000 acres.

Chapter 1 examined family forest owner’s attitudes and land access posting preferences regarding four different recreation activity types: hunting, snowmobiling, ATV riding, and hiking/walking. The objective was to identify if landowners treat activities differently based on certain factors, and if a “No Trespassing” sign truly means no access for any activity whatsoever, or if it actually meant a less restrictive access level, such as access by permission only. This research was conducted via a mailed survey to private landowners throughout Penobscot County, Maine. Logistic regression was utilized to determine which factors influence recreation access decisions. The findings from this research indicate landowners do treat activities differently, and that landowner attitudes play a key role in predicting access.

Chapter 2 examined landowner preferences for both monetary and non-monetary incentives to enhance or maintain recreation access. This research provided a more detailed look at the average family forest owner in Maine, what their recreation access issues and concerns are, if they would support a walk-in hunter access program, and what other types of incentives or policies they might consider regarding public recreation access. Responses to a mailed survey of private landowners throughout the entire state of Maine were used to analyze and answer these questions. The findings show that there is no one size fits all policy to enhance or maintain recreation access, as money was not the sole or most important factor for landowner decision making processes, and there was support for non-monetary incentives.

Both chapters contain useful research for both landowners and policy makers in the state of Maine.

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