Until the late 1960's, the Red River Gorge was just one of the more beautiful parts of the Daniel Boone National Forest. At this time, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed to dam the river for flood control, water supply, and recreation purposes. Intense opposition to the project generated considerable publicity and the Gorge area experienced substantial increases in visitation. The result has been not only severe environmental degradation but extensive overcrowding as well. These trends are presently overtaxing management capabilities of the United States Forest Service. The most pressing issue has come to be how to effectively manage this area to preserve both its ecological and social attractiveness. In an effort to provide management agencies with some important social parameters of recreation in Red River Gorge, this report examines the recreationists' sociodemographic characteristics, the recreational activities engaged in, their density tolerance levels, and their preferences for development of the area. Eleven ''recreational niches" (defined as a specific location within a recreation area occupied by visitors pursuing different kinds of leisure-time activities) were identified. Preservation of the niches are recommended as a means for maintaining both the ecological and social diversity of the Red River Gorge.
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The work upon which this report is based was supported in part by funds provided by the United States Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., as authorized by the Water Research and Development Act of 1978. Public Law 95-467.
Alexander, Sara E.; DeWalt, Billie R.; and Scott, Eugenie, "The Red River Gorge: The Existence of "Recreational Niches" and Their Management Implications" (1983). KWRRI Research Reports. 58.