Michael Ferguson

Phone: (603) 862-1644
Office: Recreation Management & Policy, Hewitt Hall Rm 193, Durham, NH 03824

I am an Assistant Professor in Recreation Management and Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Broadly speaking, I design, manage, and analyze human dimensions of natural resources research in parks and protected areas (PPAs) around the world. Specifically, my research models outdoor recreation visitor behaviors, decision-making, and experiences in PPA settings. My primary area of research focuses on outdoor recreation visitor use management within PPAs. My interlinked sub-areas of research focus on the extent to which three specific factors influence visitor behaviors, decision-making, and experiences within PPAs: 1) social impacts (e.g., crowding, conflict), 2) situational impacts (e.g., parking, traffic, energy development), and 3) ecological impacts (e.g., water quality, water levels, snowpack).

Resource managers, elected officials, the outdoor industry, and the general public are growing increasingly concerned regarding the influence of exponential PPA visitation growth upon the visitor experience, the protection of natural resources, and the viability of the outdoor economic sector. To ensure that current and future generations continue to benefit from PPAs, the goal of my research is to provide these stakeholders with scientifically grounded and legally defensible research to inform policies and strategies which sustainably manage increasing visitation in these priceless PPAs. Research collaborators include the USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sea Grant, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, NH State Parks, and other various federal, state, local, and private organizations.

A second aspect of my career involves educating and mentoring undergraduate and graduate level university students. I teach courses such as recreation resource management, human dimension of natural environments, recreation facility design and management, marketing the recreation experience, and the history of outdoor recreation. My teaching is modeled within a constructivist approach where I include applied, experiential, and group-based learning techniques which emphasize the development of applicable problem-solving skills. Throughout all of my courses I include elements of my own research to provide students with real-world situations and resulting trade-offs to better prepare them as they emerge as outdoor recreation professionals.

I am also the founder of the Applied Recreation Research Collaborative (ARRC) laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. For more information, please visit: https://www.unharrc.com/


  • Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
  • M.S., West Virginia University
  • B.S., West Virginia University

Research Interests

  • Climate Change
  • Ecological Zones
  • Energy Environmental Sciences
  • Energy Planning/Policy
  • Natural Resources Management
  • Parks & Recreation Management
  • Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • Social Science Education
  • Tourism

Courses Taught

  • RMP 515: Hist Outdoor Pursuits North Am
  • RMP 559: Mktg Recreation
  • RMP 670: Venue Mgmt Design & Operations
  • RMP 711/811: Recreation Resource Management
  • RMP 806: Rec Admin & Organization Behav
  • RMP 980: Independent Study

Selected Publications

Ferguson, M. D., Perry, E. E., Lynch, M., Ferguson, L. A., Kiewra, L. A., Leberman, M., . . . Manning, R. E. (2022). Expanding the viewshed: Insights and implications for examining visitor use management across scales and modalities in an Iconic National Forest. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 40, 100570. doi:10.1016/j.jort.2022.100570

Ferguson, M. D., McIntosh, K., English, D. B. K., Ferguson, L. A., Barcelona, R., Giles, G., . . . Leberman, M. (2022). The Outdoor Renaissance: Assessing the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic upon Outdoor Recreation Visitation, Behaviors, and Decision-Making in New England's National Forests. SOCIETY & NATURAL RESOURCES, 35(10), 1063-1082. doi:10.1080/08941920.2022.2055247

Bidwell, D., Firestone, J., & Ferguson, M. D. (2022). Love thy neighbor (or not): Regionalism and support for the use of offshore wind energy by others. Energy Research & Social Science, 90, 102599. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2022.102599

Ferguson, M. D., Caraynoff, A. R., Ferguson, L. A., Barcelona, R. J., Evensen, D., Knox, H., . . . Grosz, D. (2022). Whether They Return: Modeling Outdoor Recreation Behaviors, Decision Making, and Intention-to-Return in Congressionally Designated Wilderness. FORESTS, 13(7). doi:10.3390/f13071018

Ferguson, M. D., Giles, G., Ferguson, L. A., Barcelona, R., Evensen, D., Barrows, C., & Leberman, M. (2022). Seeing the forest for the trees: A social-ecological systems approach to managing outdoor recreation visitation in parks and protected areas. JOURNAL OF OUTDOOR RECREATION AND TOURISM-RESEARCH PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT, 38. doi:10.1016/j.jort.2021.100473

Ferguson, M. D., Evensen, D., Ferguson, L. A., Bidwell, D., Firestone, J., Dooley, T. L., & Mitchell, C. R. (2021). Uncharted waters: Exploring coastal recreation impacts, coping behaviors, and attitudes towards offshore wind energy development in the United States. ENERGY RESEARCH & SOCIAL SCIENCE, 75. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2021.102029

Ferguson, M. D., Lynch, M. L., Miller, Z. D., Ferguson, L. A., & Newman, P. (2020). What do outdoor recreationists think of fracking? Politics, ideology, and perceptions of shale gas energy development in Pennsylvania State Forests. ENERGY RESEARCH & SOCIAL SCIENCE, 62. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2019.101384

Miller, Z. D., Ferguson, L. A., Newman, P., Ferguson, M., Tipton, N., Sparrow, V., & Taff, B. D. (2020). Developing visitor thresholds of sound from shale natural gas compressors for motorized and non-motorized recreation users in Pennsylvania State Forests. APPLIED ACOUSTICS, 157. doi:10.1016/j.apacoust.2019.107012

Ferguson, M. D., Powers, S. L., Trauntvein, N., Jacquet, J. B., Graefe, A. R., & Mowen, A. J. (2019). Winds of change - Predicting water-based recreationists' support and opposition for offshore wind energy development in the Great Lakes. JOURNAL OF GREAT LAKES RESEARCH, 45(1), 187-195. doi:10.1016/j.jglr.2018.10.006

Ferguson, M. D., Mueller, J. T., Graefe, A. R., & Mowen, A. J. (2018). Coping with Climate Change: A Study of Great Lakes Water-Based Recreationists. JOURNAL OF PARK AND RECREATION ADMINISTRATION, 36(2), 52-74. doi:10.18666/JPRA-2018-V36-I2-8296

Most Cited Publications