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WASO Congestion Management System, Phase 2

Project #: 4W4195
Start Date: 08/20/2012
End Date: 12/30/2013

In national parks, congestion issues must be addressed within a context of the larger mission of the NPS, which is “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Therefore, mitigating congestion issues (congestion management) must maintain the balance between resource protection and the visitor experience.

This “balancing act” takes place not only within national park system unit boundaries, but also in relationship between the park unit and gateway communities and other surrounding conditions. National park units exist in dense urban areas as well as in very rural/frontier areas. The solutions, therefore, must take into consideration the context of the congestion issues in relationship to many factors, including visitation statistics and demographics, population density, seasonality of use, protection of natural and cultural resources, enhancement of visitor experiences, multimodal opportunities, community partnership opportunities, and other considerations.

For this project, the research team developed a congestion management toolkit for the U.S. National Park Service, using the outcomes of the Congestion Management System Phase I study. The toolkit takes into account the unique challenges and characteristics of congestion in recreational settings, including visitor expectations, seasonality, vehicle occupancy rates, peak traffic/visitation times, trailhead/attraction/visitor center parking capacity, and the balancing of resource protection and visitor experience. The toolkit approach focused on developing simple, scalable solutions that can be implemented in a logical manner using adaptive management principles.


The objective of this project was to develop a congestion management toolkit for the National Park Service.


  • David Kack
    David Kack


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