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Post #1 Pros and cons of ways to organize parks into regions
I have outlined the pros and cons of six ways to organize parks into regions - well, really, just five since the sixth suggestion is to have no scheme at all.
1. Status quo - based on the Walk Books
- Well thought out descriptions of the regions
- Familiar to long-time users of the Walk Book
- By adding tourist regions and physiographic provinces to counties, the parks DB can be sorted in several different ways
- Regions are vastly different sizes (from "The Palisades" which has one narrow park, to Central Jersey which has 31)
- Some regions are named after their geological features (The Wyanokies), one a political entity (Morris County), and another just the center of the state (Central Jersey).
- The inclusion of certain parks does not always make sense, like excluding Stephens State Park/Allamuchy Mountain from Morris County Region because it is in Sussex County - yet the park is part of the Farny Highlands
2. By county
- The rationale is clear-cut - parks organized according to the county (or counties) in which they reside
- The boundaries and locations of counties are generally known by local would-be hikers - who may want to hike locally (especially now that gas is relatively expensive)
- Boring and unimaginative
- Those who want to search by county can do it in the Parks DB
- Some counties will have no hiking parks (Hudson)
- Like Morris County now, counties may have a variety of hiking experiences - a reason I've added "sub-regions" in Morris
- This might confuse the hiking public into thinking the parks listed are only county parks - that is, administered by county governments
- Writing an overview for each county, characterizing its parks and hiking experiences will require considerable time and ingenuity
- Viewing 21 New Jersey counties, and I don't know how many in New York State, as regions may be daunting for web page users
3. By larger categories of counties like North Jersey, Central Jersey, South Jersey [and something similar for NYS]
- The "pros" in alternative #2 are still present
- The number of regions would be reduced to three in New Jersey, and presumably by a similar scale in NYS.
- Most of the bullet points from #2 still apply - it's still unimaginative
- The Regions data base would still have to list the counties
4. By Tourist Region [or Travel Region] -which name?
- The regions are already defined - and there are only six of them in NJ
- The categories are more likely to be familiar to the general public since they are publicized to attract visitors
- The regions are based on the kind of recreation a visitor or hiker might desire - from the Skylands to the Shore
- The Gateway Region is large from a piece of the Highlands in Bergen County to Middlesex County in the Coastal Plain. Perhaps this could be divided up into "sub-regions."
- The Greater Atlantic City Region as a unique region also does not sound promising, unless hiking between casinos counts
- What the state tourist bureau created it can change, requiring a potentially substantial reworking of the TC's database
- Those who want can search by Tourist Region in the Parks DB, hence why have a region?
5. By physiographic provinces
- These are regions that are technically defined their landscape - "Valley and Ridge" in the northwest of NJ to the "Coastal Plain".
- These landforms would be of great interest to the prospective hiker
- In NJ there are only four regions
regions would differ greatly in size (just like the Walk Book).
- The Coastal Plain region amounts to 60% of the state's square miles - and encompasses all or parts of 11 counties
- The Valley and Ridge Province is relatively small by comparison (even though rich in parks)
may not have comparable data (others are still checking)
- It may be that NYS area is too big to reduce it to four regions: http://www.cara.psu.edu/land/images/region_physprov.pdf
- Pinpointing a park in one of these regions may prove challenging in some instances because they are irregular - I'm already having trouble
- A single region could still host vastly different types of parks. The Piedmont Province, for instance, includes the Palisades, The Watchungs and the Hackensack Meadowlands - two of these are regions in the NJ Walkbook
- Those who want can search by this category in the Parks DB
- The regions would differ greatly in size (just like the Walk Book).
6. Don't have regions
- Keep it simple - take the web visitor to specific information with as little fuss as possible
- The Parks data base, as updated by Walt, now includes counties, NJ tourist regions, and NJ physiographic provinces - all of which can be set up for sorting
- An "overview" section could just provide general introductions to these three ways to display the table with appropriate links.
- The general introductions could be too long for web users to read - too much fuss
- If links are used to a web page explaining the Tourist Regions, would the TC site lose them?
- The idea sounds like too much of a radical change from the "Walkbook model."
For your information, here are the official Pennsylvania State Parks regions: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/index.aspx#region