To examine the study site, we selected four criteria. The section below provides a rationale for using the criteria, and a description of how they were assessed. We have created a design plan for the site, based on the results of our findings for the four criteria and the results of the literature review.
Rationale: Paths are created for human use, so it is important to retain the usefulness of the path network at the site. The number of people who use each trail may affect the amount of erosion damage observed.
Measurements: To determine the uses of both constructed and desired paths, we conducted a traffic count, and a survey of the path users.
To determine the amount of use each path receives, we conducted a traffic count. On Monday June 16, 1997, we observed the study site from 08:00h to 17:00h to generate data for a complete day. We sat across from the berm and marked down when an individual walked, or biked, on one of the four trails or the Paved Path. People were recorded crossing in both east and west directions over the berm.
From the data generated from this full day of observations, we determined the peak hours during which people crossed the berm. We then conducted observations on Wednesday July 16, 1997, and Friday July 18, 1997, only during these peak hours (08:00-9:30, 11:15-12:45, 14:45-16:15). This was done in order to be time-efficient, as we could observe the most people while spending relatively few hours making observations. The peak time of day intervals provided us with substantial amounts of data for high use traffic periods during the day. The Monday, Wednesday, and Friday dates provided a representation of use for the beginning of the week, mid-week, and the end of the week.
Method of determining the sample size: Before conducting the survey we first tried to calculate how many people we needed to question to obtain a significant sample representation. We did this by assessing where the majority of peoples' paths were likely to originate from when they crossed the berm.
We included the Philip Street / Co-op housing because we felt that many students who live in these residences might cross the study site daily travelling to and from the university. We obtained a figure of 690 residents from the housing office. Parking Lot B is located on the east side of the berm, so we included the 841 current parking permits in our calculation, since we felt that users of the parking lot were likely to travel across the study site daily as well.
The combined total of the housing and Parking Lot was 1531 (possible individuals) which we multiplied by .05 (the percentile) to establish that we needed to survey 76.55 people to get a representative sample. We rounded up the sample size to 80 so we would survey 40 people on the Paved Path and 40 on the trails, 10 on each trail.
Survey: In our survey, we included questions to determine the route that people take to and from the university, why people choose the Paved Path or Trail to walk on, and their opinion on the appearance of the berm area (Appendix C). The survey was approved by the office of Human Resources and included a cover letter stating its purpose. For usability purposes, we wanted to analyze the route people were taking across the berm to help us determine if their travel needs were being accommodated with the present layout of the site. If the tally and survey showed that needs were not being met we wanted to design a more effective and sustainable path network.
We went to the site on two separate days between 11:30 and 13:30. On
day one we questioned 40 people on the Paved Path and on day two we questioned
10 people on each of the four trails.
The results of our traffic count and survey are discussed in section 6.0, Results and Discussion.
Rationale: Berms are habitat for both plants and wildlife. It is important to understand and attempt to mitigate the erosional effects of desired paths, because erosion may have a negative effect on vegetation health and is considered undesirable in itself.
Measurements: To help determine the biophysical integrity of the site, we studied the causes and effects of erosion, and the impact of erosion on vegetation health. We conducted a literature review to better understand these topics. The results of the literature review are presented in section 4.0, Background Research on Trails.
We inventoried the species of trees present on the study site and observed that some of the trees were in a damaged state, which we thought may be attributable to damage caused by people walking over their roots and pulling off branches while using the trails.
We initially had hoped to use these factors to determine which trails were most heavily impacted and whether there was a relationship between the extent of damage on each trail to the amount of use the trail receives. However, we did not in the end study this part of the problem, partly due to time restrictions and partly due to a lack of a sufficient scale by which we felt we could measure the extent of damage. Ultimately, the amount of erosion damage is highly visible by casual observation of the study site. There is often considerable runoff of soil during rainstorms and on dry days a great deal of dust is raised by people and machinery such as lawnmowers going over the trails. There is obvious root exposure and gullying in some places. Soil compaction and solidification of the top layers of soil are visible and easily evident. In all places on the trails, the ground level is a few centimetres below the level of uncompacted and uneroded neighbouring soils.
We were unable to conduct a thorough inventory of wildlife due to time restrictions and decided to discard this part of our study.
Based on our findings and our overall vision of sustainability, we decided that there was indeed a need to redesign the site and rehabilitate the vegetation. Therefore, we conducted research into types of native plants that would be desirable to use on the site, taking into consderation thier aesthetic appeal and ability to deter people. The results of this research are presented in section 7.0, Berm Design.
Rationale: Cost is a determining factor in decisions to implement change.
Measurements: Although we would have liked to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of various options for management of the study site, we could not due to limitations of time and personnel. Therefore, we used discussion with key contacts to gauge the feasibility of various options.
We conducted a preliminary investigation into various types of trail materials in order to determine their potential for use on the redesigned site. The results of this research are presented in section 4.0, Background Research on Trails.
Rationale: Aesthetic appeal is a major concern of the university administration. Achieving aesthetic appeal is normally the general purpose of any landscaping effort.
Measurements: To measure the opinions of path users about the site's aesthetic appeal we included a survey question. We also conducted discussions with key contacts to determine their opinion.
Question 3 in our survey dealt with the perceptions of walkway users in regards to the aesthetic appearance of the site. All respondents were asked to judge the appearance of the same area by looking at the berm site. We used a scale which included 5 possible ratings (very unattractive, unattractive, neutral, attractive, very attractive).
We also consulted key contacts about their attitudes in regards to the study area.
The results of our research are discussed in section 6.0, Results and Discussion.