An ecosystem approach to recreation location quotients

Andrew Oftedal, Mae Davenport, Ingrid E. Schneider, Cindy Zerger, Brian Schreurs, Mary Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Despite the widespread agreement on the importance of preserving ecological integrity in conservation and outdoor recreation decision-making processes, traditional metrics analyzing the supply of and demand for conservation and recreation resources have focused on geographical and population-centric units of measurement rather than ecological ones. One tool past researchers have used to inform recreation resource planning is the recreation location quotient (RLQ). While simple park-to-population ratios or acres-per-capita metrics provide a base measure of carrying capacity and are often useful to set broad recreation supply standards, the RLQ offers a more nuanced snapshot of supply and demand by comparing regional ratios to a standardized reference region. The RLQ is thus able to provide a statistic or quotient that highlights regions where recreation resources are particularly abundant and/or scarce relative to a reference area. This project expands the past RLQ analyses by investigating the distribution of recreation resources across the 10 ecological sections found within the US state of Minnesota. RLQs were calculated using recreation trail mileage, natural resource and recreation area acreage data, and recreation facility data from federal, state, and local agencies. Results found notable differences in supply of recreation resources across ecological sections. Some sections were considerably underrepresented in recreation resources-per area (e.g., Red River Valley and North Central Glaciated Plains) while others were underrepresented in recreation resources-percapita (e.g., Minnesota and Northeast Iowa Morainal). The RLQ statistics and resulting maps illustrating relative surplus or deficiencies can inform future land acquisition decisions and highlight the need for cross-jurisdictional planning in order to ensure outdoor recreation systems are ecologically representative. Possible implications and recommendations for future planning decisions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1012
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011


  • Ecosystem management
  • Geo-spatial analysis
  • Recreation management
  • Recreation resource inventory


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