Ashley D’Antonio is an Associate Professor of Nature-Based Recreation Management. She does research focused on recreation ecology and outdoor recreation management, and teaches undergraduate courses on similar topics. This summer, she continued work on an ongoing research project just outside Falls City, Oregon on land managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) called Black Rock Mountain Biking Area.

Describe an average day
Most days we would pick up our field gear at Richardson Hall around 9 am and then drive out to the trailhead (about 50 minutes away). On a typical day, we’d do one of two types of data collection. Some days we head into the trail system to download data from automatic trail counters that we’ve installed throughout the mountain biking trail system. These automatic counters estimate how many people are using the trails. We also are conducting visitor surveys as people wrap up their visit – these surveys help us understand who is using Black Rock Mountain Biking Area, why they are using the area, and what changes they may like to see to the area. When doing surveys, we spend quite a bit of time waiting at the trailhead for folks to finish mountain biking, it can get really busy, but it’s also good to have a book to read during downtime between visitors.

Describe a non-average day
Part of this project is also to help ODF think about how they might monitor recreation use at other recreation sites they manage. So, I did have one non-average day when our fieldwork was a guided tour of the Tillamook State Forest. We were able to see the varied types of recreation offered by ODF including OHV use, hiking trails, and campgrounds. It was great to meet with ODF managers and spend time with my project collaborators from the University of Washington in the field.       

Describe your field crew/other entities you worked with
This project would not be possible without the amazing field crew of students that have been helping! Skyler Cristelli, a Natural Resources student in the College of Forestry, has been leading the fieldwork on this project. Last winter and spring terms, Opal Christian – a recent TRAL grad – helped Skye will all of the data collection until she graduated. And then this summer, a new Masters of Natural Resources student, Jon Anderegg, joined the project. We’re out there working at least 4 days a month for an entire year, so student help has been essential. We are also collaborating with Spencer Wood and Sama Winder at the University of Washington’s Outdoor Recreation and Data Lab. They are using remote methods (social media and a chatbot) to monitor use at Black Rock Mountain Biking Area and we’ll be comparing our data to see which approaches will be best for ODF broadly.

What happens now with this research?
We’re still collecting data on this project for a few more months. After that, we’ll be collaborating with the University of Washington to write-up a project report for ODF. We hope the work helps them to better understand and manage use at Black Rock Mountain Biking Area. And also, the overall project will help inform ODF about approaches for monitoring recreation use at other recreation destinations that they manage.

Anything else you want us to know?
I don’t mountain bike (I am too risk adverse, ha!), but Black Rock Mountain Biking Area is an amazing location! The folks that ride there are so nice and friendly, and the trail system is pretty unique. I’ve had some of my most positive experience surveying folks about outdoor recreation at this site this past summer.

What I did this summer is a profile series of students, faculty and staff in the College of Forestry. Did you have a great job, vacation, or field research experience? Contact CoFThisWeek@oregonstate.edu and we will be in touch!

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