Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

Dr. David Shively

Commitee Members

Dr. Fernando Sanchez, Mr. Kyle Balke, Dr. Keith Bosak


Participatory GIS, Sustainable Recreation, Recreation Decision Support System, Web GIS Design


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Geographic Information Sciences | Human Geography | Nature and Society Relations


Sustainable recreation ensures that local communities benefit from the effects of recreation. A recreation decision support system (RDSS) is a common way for people to gather information about an area they are about to visit. This research explores: 1) how well can local representatives’ knowledge concerning appropriate recreation behaviors be incorporated into a WebGIS that will serve as a RDSS, 2) what layers, activities, and information do participants want to include in a RDSS, and 3) how well does the ArcGIS Online perform in incorporating representatives’ knowledge of areas of significance for a RDSS?

Recreationalists in Missoula County, Montana, have diverse recreational landscapes to choose from, and places that are of significance to a diverse set of groups to be respectful of. This research explores the participatory GIS (PGIS) method using a focus group comprised of community interest groups for initial content scoping, WebGIS design, and final evaluation of the RDSS. This is a novel approach to test how to incorporate local representatives’ knowledge into a RDSS tool.

This research revealed that local interest groups indicated that identifying allowed recreation activities, leaving no trace, and low impact forms of recreation were the most appropriate to incorporate in the RDSS. The themes of accessibility, community and conservation, wildlife, and wilderness emerged as to why interest groups value recreation areas. Additionally, providing information on regulations, infrastructure, history, recreation activities, and wildlife would help promote sustainable activities. Participants indicated that layers, icons pop-ups, and queries were identified as adequate ways to inform users of the recreation opportunities in the area. Results demonstrate that the PGIS process is a successful method for creating a sustainable recreation map for a community by using participants from a diverse set of interest groups.



© Copyright 2017 Nathanael R. Wold