Capacity in the Age of Environmental Variability : An Analysis of Yosemite's Use and Ecological Imperatives
- Kunches, Daniel
- [University Park, Pennsylvania] : Pennsylvania State University, 2019.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Additional Creators:
- King, Brian Hastings
- Restrictions on Access:
- Restricted (Penn State Only).
- This dissertation has two primary objectives. First, it traces the history and practice of the capacity concept, from all iterations of carrying capacity, to visitor capacity used in recreation and park management generally, to user capacity in the Merced River Plan specifically. Second, it analyzes user capacity in the context of increasing levels of environmental variability. The Merced River Plan employs the capacity concept in Yosemite Valley, within Yosemite National Park, which has been at the cutting edge of conservation thinking and debate going back to the beginnings of the idea to set aside land for protection. Concerns about overcrowding and ecological impairment have long been part of Yosemites history, and the management mechanism to address those issues, user capacity, was developed and implemented in recent years through the Merced River Plan. Central to the problems associated with the capacity concept as a management tool is its lack of flexibility, which inhibits it from capturing the full range of dynamic complexities in ecological systems. This dissertation focuses on user capacitys prospects as a management tool by analyzing the relationship between three independent but related data sources: 1) hydrologic data in the Merced River since the beginning of the 20th century 2) interviews with park staff about issues and areas potentially impacted by climate variability 3) the Merced River Plans mechanisms for adaptation with a focus on its emphasis on management of the Merced Rivers Outstandingly Remarkable Values. In the context of environmental variability, ecological restoration functions as a bridge concept between ecological concerns and management solutions within the national park structure, which has both ecological and visitor use imperatives. Conservation boundaries at a wide range of elevations are additionally examined as important geographical features in the complex matrix of visitor use management in Yosemite National Park as a whole. This dissertation engages the genealogy of the capacity concept up to a contemporary application, and analyzes its utility in the context of knowledge of environmental variability and its future projections. Resulting findings show the strengths and weaknesses of user capacity in Yosemite, and extend our understanding of the capacity concept itself.
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University 2019.
- Technical Details:
- The full text of the dissertation is available as an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file ; Adobe Acrobat Reader required to view the file.
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