Boater preferences for beach characteristics downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona

William Stewart, Kevin Larkin, Brian Orland, Don Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Release flow decisions are increasingly being influenced by an array of social values, including those related to river-based recreation. A substantial portion of past recreation research on downstream impacts of dams has focused on variability of instream flows. This study complements past research by assessing user preferences for beach characteristics affected by long-term impacts of flow regimes. Based upon a study of three recreational user groups (private trip leaders, commercial passengers, and river guides) of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, preferences for beach size, presence of shade on beach, and presence of vegetation on beach are examined. Results indicate that large size beaches with shade from trees are setting characteristics with highly reliable and strong user preferences. The multinomial regression models developed for each user group indicate that 80% of all respondents would choose beach campsites 800 m2; results were the same regardless of respondents' past boating experience, boat type (i.e. oar or motorized), or group size. In addition, size of beach was consistently reported to be a trip feature of moderate importance to respondents' river trip. Implications of this research are related to future prospects for controlled floods (i.e. spike flows) released from Glen Canyon Dam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Long-term impacts
  • Release flows from dams
  • River recreation
  • User preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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