Jeff Marion

Station Leader & Scientist

Phone: (540) 231-6603
Fax: (540) 231-3698

Virginia Tech, 310 W. Campus Dr.
Blackburg, Virginia 24061

Research Interests

Recreation ecology: research and monitoring to evaluate environmental impacts resulting from recreational activity in protected natural areas. Research to: 1) identify, measure, and manage recreation resource impacts, 2) model and understand the influence of use-related, environmental, and managerial factors, 3) evaluate the efficacy of educational, site management and, regulatory actions designed to avoid or minimize recreation impacts, and 4) support and improve visitor use management and carrying capacity planning and decision-making.


  • B.A. (Biology) Wittenberg University, 1979.
  • M.S. & Ph.D. (Recreation Resource Management) University of Minnesota, 1982 & 1984


Jeff Marion is adjunct professor in natural resource recreation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech and recreation ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

He grew up exploring the woods, streams, and caves of Kentucky. An avid outdoor recreationist, naturalist, and Eagle Scout, he spent summers teaching backpacking and climbing skills while majoring in Biology at Wittenberg University. With M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Recreation Resources Management from the University of Minnesota (1982/84), he began his career as a National Park Service Research Biologist in 1985. He moved to the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources in 1989 to establish a Cooperative Park Studies Unit. He was transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey in 1997, but continues his research in recreation ecology studies from Virginia Tech.

Jeff works with graduate students in his research program. Studies have investigated recreation impacts to campsites, trails, and cliffs, and the efficacy of educational and site management actions designed to avoid or minimize visitor impacts. Jeff and his wife Susie lead a co-ed Venture Crew of high school youth on outings that include backpacking, rock climbing, caving, canoeing/kayaking, and canyoneering.


Marion, Jeffrey L. 1984. Ecological changes resulting from recreational use: A study of backcountry campsites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota. Univ. of Minnesota. Ph.D. Dissertation. 279 p.

Marion, Jeffrey L., David N. Cole and David Reynolds. 1985. Limits of acceptable change: A framework for assessing carrying capacity. Park Science 6(1):9-11.

Marion, Jeffrey L. 1991. Developing a Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring Program for Visitor Impacts on Recreation Sites: A Procedural Manual. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natural Resources Report NPS/NRVT/NRR-91/06. 59 p.

Marion, Jeffrey L., Joseph W. Roggenbuck, and Robert E. Manning. 1993. Problems and practices in backcountry recreation management: A survey of National Park Service Managers. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natural Resources Report NPS/NRVT/NRR-93/12, 63 p.

Marion, Jeffrey L. 1995. Capabilities and management utility of recreation impact monitoring programs. Environmental Management 19(5):763-771.

Marion, Jeffrey L. 1996. An assessment of trail conditions in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Region, Research/Resources Mgmt. Rpt., 152 p.

Leung, Yu-Fai, and Jeffrey L. Marion. 1996. Trail degradation as influenced by environmental factors: A state-of-the-knowledge review. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 51(2):130-136.

Marion, Jeffrey L., and Susan Chadwick Brame. 1996. Leave No Trace outdoor skills and ethics: An educational solution for reducing visitor impacts. Park Science 16(3):24-26.

Marion, Jeffrey L., and David N. Cole. 1996. Spatial and temporal variation in soil and vegetation impacts on campsites: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Ecological Applications 6(2):520-530.

Marion, Jeffrey L. and Tracy A. Farrell. 1998. Managing ecotourism visitation in protected areas. In: “Ecotourism: A guide for planners and managers,” vol. 2, Kreg Lindberg, Megan Epler Wood, and David Engeldrum, editors, pp. 155-181. The Ecotourism Society, North Bennington, VT. 244p.

Marion, Jeffrey L. and Yu-Fai Leung. 1998. International impact research and management. In: “Wildland Recreation: Ecology and Management” 2nd Edition, William E. Hammitt and David N. Cole, editors, pp. 328-346. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 361p.

Leung, Yu-Fai and Jeffrey L. Marion. 1999. Spatial strategies for managing visitor impacts in National Parks. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 17(4): 20-38.

Marion, Jeffrey L. and Yu-Fai Leung. 2001. Trail resource impacts and an examination of alternative assessment techniques. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 19(3):17-37.

Marion, Jeffrey L. and Tracy Farrell. 2002. Management practices that concentrate visitor activities: Camping impact management at Isle Royale National Park, USA. Journal of Environmental Management 66(2): 201-212.

Marion, Jeffrey L. 2003. Camping impact management on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Report published by the Appalachian Trail Conference, Harper’s Ferry, WV. 109 pp.

Reid, Scott E. and Jeffrey L. Marion. 2004. Effectiveness of a confinement strategy for reducing campsite impacts in Shenandoah National Park. Environmental Conservation 31(4): 274-282.

Marion, Jeffrey L. and Yu-Fai Leung. 2004. Environmentally sustainable trail management. In: Buckley, Ralf (ed.), Environmental Impact of Tourism, Cambridge, MA: CABI Publishing. pp. 229-244.

Marion, Jeffrey L. and Scott E. Reid. 2007. Minimising visitor impacts to protected areas: The efficacy of low impact education programmes. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 15(1): 5-27.

Daniels, Melissa L. and Jeffrey L. Marion. 2006. Visitor evaluations of management actions at a highly impacted Appalachian Trail camping area. Environmental Management 38(6):1006–1019.

Olive, Nathanial D. and Jeffrey L. Marion. 2009. The influence of use-related, environmental and managerial factors on soil loss from recreational trails. Journal of Environmental Management 90(3): 1483–1493.

Marion, Jeffrey L., Jeremy F. Wimpey, & Logan O. Park. 2011. The science of trail surveys: Recreation ecology provides new tools for managing wilderness trails. Park Science 28(3): 60-65.

Marion, Jeffrey. 2014. Leave No Trace in the Outdoors. Stackpole, Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.

Marion, Jeffrey L., Yu-Fai Leung, Holly Eagleston, & Kaitlin Burroughs. In Press. A Review and Synthesis of Recreation Ecology Research Findings on Visitor Impacts to Wilderness and Protected Natural Areas. J. of Forestry.

Marion, Jeffrey L. In Press. A Review and Synthesis of Recreation Ecology Research Supporting Carrying Capacity and Visitor Use Management Decision-Making. J. of Forestry.

Marion, Jeffrey L., Jeremy Wimpey, & Christopher Carr. 2013. Long-Term Monitoring Methods for Assessing Visitor Impacts to Mountain Summits. Final Research Report to Acadia National Park. U.S. Geological Survey, Distributed by the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources, Blacksburg, VA.

Professional Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Park and Recreation Program, 12/84-6/85
  • Research Biologist, USDI, National Park Service, Mid-Atlantic Region, 6/85-10/94. In 1994 all NPS scientists were transferred to the Biological Survey, and in 1997 to the U.S. Geological Survey.