Portland Parks and Recreation Department

In 2016, the City of Portland’s Parks and Recreation Department engaged Leave No Trace for consulting, including conducting a staff survey on visitor management techniques and suggesting options for improved visitor outreach.

The purpose of the Portland Parks & Recreation Department (PPRD) staff survey was to determine the primary recreation-related management concerns for park facilities and parks in Portland. Survey responses were anonymous, and provide insight into PPRD staff opinions and perceptions regarding recreation management.

Survey results indicated that there are several significant issues facing Portland’s parks and natural areas. Furthermore, many of the reported issues were categorized as severe in terms of level of impact. However, survey respondents indicated that there are numerous potential opportunities for effectively utilizing Leave No Trace education through a variety of means to improve conditions in the parks.

A few of the most salient findings included:

  • Running, exercise, and hiking were reported as the most popular activities occurring in PPRD managed parks and natural areas.
  • Homeless encampments, drug and alcohol use, dogs off-leash, trash and littering were reported as the most pressing issues facing PPRD managed parks and natural areas.
  • Nearly half (48.2%) of respondents indicated that Leave No Trace information is underused by PPRD.

Survey respondents were given a list of 15 recreational activities and asked to report which were the most popular on PPRD managed lands. Respondents indicated that running, exercise, hiking, bicycling and picnicking are the most popular activities.

PPRD staff were also asked what the most pressing issues are on the lands they manage. Though this was an open response question, the majority of survey participants wrote in the following: homeless encampments, drug and alcohol use, dogs off-leash, trash and littering. Respondents were also asked to review 20 common recreation-related impacts and instructed to rate each as having No impact, Slight impact, Moderate impact or a Severe impact. Damage to vegetation, trash, non-native species, impacts to wildlife, off-trail travel damage, and undesignated camping were all selected by the majority of respondents as having a Severe impact.

In 2017, Leave No Trace staff returned to City Park to conduct a successful Hot Spot visit, this time focusing on Forest Park, Portland’s largest and most heavily used natural area. Read more about the outcomes and public engagement that resulted from that effort.


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