Characteristics and satisfactions of elderly winter visitors at public land camping sites in the Lower Colorado River basin.
AuthorBorn, Ted Jay, 1938-
Watersheds -- Recreational use.
Watersheds -- Lower Colorado River Watershed.
Older people -- Recreation.
Outdoor recreation -- Southwest, New.
Committee ChairKnorr, Philip
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractElderly recreational vehicle campers are attracted to the Lower Colorado River area during the winter season. Their numbers have grown in recent years and many are seeking alternatives to the usual practice of establishing residence in private trailer parks. As a result, various public land sites in the region are being subjected to concentrated winter use. Units in these camping areas represent users who are retired couples or individuals on fixed or limited incomes, living in "self-contained" campers, travel trailers or motor homes. Some of these visitors are utilizing designated campgrounds; others are squatting on the public domain where there are few, if any, sanitary or other facilities. The impact of elderly winter visitors on the public land resource of the Lower Colorado River basin area is varied. An understanding of environmental effects is important, but proposed solutions depend upon our ability to understand the people causing environmental deterioration. Answers have been sought to basic questions about winter visitor characteristics and behavior. The findings were applied toward the development of basic policy recommendations pertinent to appropriate public land management for the desert areas of the Southwest. Of theoretical interest was the evaluation of the relative importance of camping socialization experiences in explaining user behavior. Data were gathered from 580 visitor units during the winter of 1973-74 with a personal interview schedule. Important classes of variables included socio-economic characteristics, camping experience, and users' campground behavior and preferences. Interviews were conducted in seven sites representing various kinds of public and private camping facilities in the region. Discriminant function, correlational, multiple regression and bivariate analyses were utilized to render the collected data meaningful. The basic sub-groups in the sample were distinguished by significant differences in various socio-economic and experiential characteristics. The most important of these were income, education, age, value of mobile quarters, and pre-retirement adult camping experience. Length of stay in public land camping areas was not explained by differences in site characteristics. Differences in visitor characteristics accounted for 40-50% of variation in length of stay. Important predictor variables included income, age, average annual pre-retirement camping experience and the amount of previous recreational vehicle camping without utility and sewerage hookups. Support was evidenced for a basic theoretical orientation: that post-retirement behavior is, in part, a reflection of pre-retirement recreational socialization and leisure life style patterns and persistence. The results suggested certain implications for public land management. Recommendations include the desirability of moving elderly winter camper use to sites away from the Colorado River. High fees imposed along the river would discourage extended-stay winter use and restore a unique resource to the short-term water-oriented visitor. The establishment of a spectrum of "inland" camping sites with varying levels of facilities and fees would serve as a positive inducement to the older winter camper, and restore some order to what has been, in some areas, an uncontrolled camping environment. A public campground on Bureau of Land Management land in Why, Arizona, offers a possible solution to the problems posed by the limited resources available to most public land management agencies. There a parcel of public land has been leased by a non-profit community association and developed into a public campground with basic facilities for elderly winter visitors. Management expenses are met through the imposition of a modest graduated fee schedule which favors the extended-stay camper. In this case a squatting problem has been resolved through local initiative; the public land management agency, with its limited budget, has been spared the expense of development and that of direct management responsibility.
Degree NamePh. D.
Degree ProgramWatershed Management