Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Aviva J. Rossi, PhD


The Bay Area Ridge Trail (Ridge Trail) is a long-distance, multi-use trail that connects parks and open space on the ridge lines encircling the San Francisco Bay (Bay). Like the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail, the Ridge Trail offers continuous travel through protected natural areas, but this trail is unique as it is located in a densely populated metropolitan area. The trail is currently incomplete, with gaps where the trail does not connect. The Ridge Trail also lacks the number and distribution of overnight accommodations needed to support a full circumnavigation of the Bay. Addressing gaps in the current network of publicly operated campsites along the Ridge Trail increases regional connectivity of conservation lands and expands opportunities within local communities for individuals to engage with nature. To understand the barriers to public access to campsites and the potential environmental impacts of camping, an analysis of recreation ecology literature and a campsite inventory were completed. The result of this evaluation was a set of recommendations for siting and managing new campsites intended for use by the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. This study found that confining camping to designated, durable campsites in high-use areas, like the parks in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the most effective strategy to reduce the extent of environmental impacts. Based on the locations of campsite network gaps identified, the development of new campsites should be prioritized on the eastern side of the Bay. The Council can support the implementation of these recommendations in partnership with public land managers through a wide variety of advocacy and technical assistance activities.