Recreation Conflict - Between Recreation User Groups
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Boaters, Canoers, Fisherman and Other Groups

Wang, C. and C. Dawson. 2005. "Recreation conflict along New York's Great Lakes coast." Coastal Management 33(3): 297-314.

This study uses the goal interference model to research recreation conflict among three different user groups in New York State's Great Lake coastal areas. Motorboat users, personal watercraft users, and riparian landowners were asked about levels of perceived conflict and the source of that conflict. Each respondent was also asked a series of question intended to measure the dimensions of the goal interference model: activity style, resource specification, mode of experience and lifestyle tolerance. A linear function was constructed that modeled goal interference as a function of all the elements of these dimensions. Logistic regression models indicated that one or more dimensions were significant in predicting perceived conflict and the models correctly predicted conflict in over 70% to 100% of the cases. While there was some variation, activity style was the most frequent significant predictor of goal interference. Generally, however, goal interference theory can be seen as a general model, and the significance of each of the four dimensions depends on the types of recreation activities and users.

Ivy, M. I., W. P. Stewart and C. C. Lue. 1992. "Exploring the role of tolerance in recreational conflict." Journal of Leisure Research 24(4): 348-360.

This study investigates one aspect of the goal interference model of recreation conflict, individual tolerance. This paper hypothesizes that as individual tolerance for another activity group and one's willingness to share resources with that other activity group increases, perceived goal interference should decrease. It was expected that fulfillment of expectations for the number of encounters with the other activity groups would also influence conflict. If the expected number of encounters was underestimated, then perceived conflict would increase. Two regression models, corresponding to the two activity groups (motorboaters and canoeists), were developed to estimate the effect of "tolerance" and "fulfillment of expectations" on "perceived conflict". Like other previous studies, an asymmetrical conflict relationship was found between motorboaters and canoers. The model for canoeists indicated that tolerance and expectations explained 40% of the variation in conflict; while the model for motorboaters indicated that tolerance explained 13% of the variation in conflict and expectations was not significant. From a management perspective, one particular result stands out in that canoeists who over-estimated the number of encounters with motorboaters perceived less conflict. This suggests a management strategy to over-emphasis the likelihood of these experiences as a way to minimize user conflicts.

Adelman, B. J. E., T. A. Heberlein and T. M. Bonnicksen. 1982. "Social psychological explanations for the persistence of a conflict between paddling canoeists and motorcraft users in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area." Leisure Sciences 5(1): 45-61.

This study finds evidence for an asymmetrical conflict between paddling canoeists and motorcraft users in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BCWA). This paper attempts to use social psychological attraction theory to attempt to explain why the conflict occurs and persists. A field questionnaire and follow-up mailed questionnaire was administered to 300 people to test the hypothesis that perceived similarity, perceptions of the BWCA, reasons for coming to the BWCA, competition for resources, and greeting behaviors, were factors influencing the asymmetrical conflict. This study found support for the influence of all these factors. When comparing the results to earlier studies in the BWCA, the results suggests that attitudes amongst canoeists have polarized, and not improved, over time. In contrast, the motorcraft users not only perceive paddlers as similar, but the smiles and waves of canoes while out in the BWCA only obscure the negative feelings held by canoeists.

Gramann, J. H. and R. J. Burdge. 1981. "The effect of recreation goals on conflict perception: The case of water skiers and fishermen." Journal of Leisure Research 13(1): 15-27.

This study makes an empirical test of the goal interference model of recreation conflict using a case study of water skiers and fisherman. As an early study of goal interference, it puts particular emphasis on the incompatibility with social, psychological, or physical goals of another group. This study found only weak support for the incompatibility of goals model. Variations in conflict perception among fisherman were somewhat related to variations in recreation goals, as fisherman who placed greater emphasis on tension release, various forms of escape, and nature enjoyment were more likely to define high-speed boating as "reckless". The authors speculate that much conflict is not related to goal incompatibility, but instead to competition for space. Later research on goal interference has emphasized that goal interference may occur even when recreation users share similar goals, as participating in their respective activities (and interacting in space) may be enough to cause significant goal interference.

Shelby, B. 1980. "Contrasting recreational experiences: Motors and oars in the Grand Canyon." Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 35: 129-131.

This study uses an experimental design to investigate the different experiences of motorized and non-motorized river runners in the Grand Canyon. A group of river runners traveled half the canyon in oar-powered boats and half the canyon in motor boats. People in the experiment preferred the oar-boat experience because of the pace of travel, smaller more comfortable social groupings and enhanced sensitivity to the natural environment. Many of the preferred aspects of the oar-boat experience related to style of travel and characteristics of the boat itself (e.g. size and possible speed). The author concludes that management actions need to be related to management goals, and in particular, to managing the desired visitor experience. Given the results of this study managers will reach different conclusions if they are managing for "wilderness experience" versus managing for "excursion experience" or to "see the place." While this study does not document recreation conflict per se, the study does measure visitor satisfaction which is often used in conflict research. Additionally, motorized versus non-motorized travel on river is often a subject of intense conflict among recreation users and a particular management challenge.

Heberlein, T. A. and J. J. Vaske. 1977. Crowding and visitor conflict on the Bois Brule River. Madison, Water Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This study describes the results of a study that interviewed nearly three thousand canoers, tubers and fisherman as they left the upper Bois Brule river. Despite high user levels, up to 308 visitors on a ten mile stretch, there was no relation between use levels and satisfaction. Use level was related to perceived crowding and feeling crowded is one aspect of overall satisfaction. The authors suggest this study casts further doubt on an econometric model of carrying capacity.

Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Others

Carothers, P., J. Vaske and M. Donnelly. 2001. "Social values versus interpersonal conflict among hikers and mountain bikers." Leisure Sciences 23(1): 47-61.

This paper investigates the differences in social values and amount of interpersonal conflict between hikers and mountain bikers in Jefferson County near Denver, Colorado. This study builds on recent research that has identified social values differences as an alternative explanation to goal interference as the cause of conflict in recreation. Social values conflict does not necessarily require any contact between individuals as it is the result of different beliefs and values. The study investigated three different groups: people who hike only, people who bike only and people who engage in both. Across all three groups, hikers were less likely to be the cause of conflict. When hiking was seen as a problem, mountain bikers and dual-sport participants were more likely than hikers to report unacceptable behaviors. Hikers were more likely than mountain bikers to have a conflict with mountain bikers, whereas dual-sport participants fell in between these two extremes. This study, unlike a previous study of hunters and non-hunters, found less social values conflict than interpersonal conflict. These two findings are not surprising given the similarity between hikers and mountain bikers and the strength of an anti-hunting sentiment in society.

Chavez, D. J. 1996. Mountain biking: Issues and actions for USDA Forest Service managers. Pacific Southwest Research Station Research Paper PSW-RP-226. Albany, USDA Forest Service.

This is largely a descriptive study of the types of issues that USDA Forest Service managers encounter with the management of mountain biking on Forest Service lands. A number of issues are identified including issues of management, resource damage, user conflicts, safety and accidents. In terms of user conflicts, managers were asked to indicated the actions that they use to minimize conflicts. Survey respondents indicated four broad categories of actions, which are listed in ranked order by frequency of use: information/education, cooperation, visitor restrictions, and resource hardening.

Blahna, D., K. Smith and J. Anderson. 1995. "Backcountry llama packing: Visitor perceptions of acceptability and conflict." Leisure Sciences 17(3): 185-204.

This paper investigates the reaction of visitors to encountering a non-traditional backcountry recreational activities: llama packing. The research is based-primarily on the goal interference model of conflict, but this study also expands the conception of conflict beyond intergroup characteristics by using other metrics that measure levels of social acceptability. A survey of 337 visitors was conducted at the Bechler Meadow region of Yellowstone National Park and the Jedediah Smith Wilderness on the Targhee National Forest. Respondents were asked about past encounters with llamas, perceptions of conflicts and problems resulting from llama use, and attitudes toward five dimensions of social acceptability of llamas: social conflict, safety, physical impacts, managerial equity, and philosophical ''appropriateness.'' Conflicts and problems related to llama use were low in both study areas, though horseback riders were more likely to have concerns than hikers. In general, the results indicated that the social acceptability of new or non-traditional activities is not just a the result of judgments related to social, environmental, and managerial conditions. Factors such as safety and philosophical appropriateness were also important elements in visitors' assessments of acceptability of llama packing. Managers cannot assume that a non-traditional activity is unacceptable and should focus on informational and educational approaches rather than simple reliance on zoning areas for different activities. Given the results of this study, managers also cannot assume that all packstock (horses and llamas) should be zoned together.

Watson, A. E., M. J. Niccolucci and D. R. Williams. 1994. "The nature of conflict between hikers and recreational stock users in the John-Muir-Wilderness." Journal of Leisure Research 26(4): 372-385.

This study investigates the extent of conflict between hikers and recreational stock users in the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada wilderness and tests the relative importance of various hypothetical predictors of conflict using multiple conflict measures. The ability to predict conflict between the two user groups was high when using the goal interference dimensions of conflict: definition of place, specialization, focus of trip/expectations, and lifestyle tolerance. However, this study found the strongest relationship was between hypothesized determinants and the attitudes hikers maintain toward encountering stock groups, rather than between hypothesized determinants and a goal interference measure of conflict. This finding suggests that conflict may arise because of other incompatibilities besides goals, such as visitor norms.

Watson, A. E., M. J. Niccolucci and D. R. Williams. 1993. Hikers and recreational stocks users: Predicting and managing conflicts in three wildernesses. Intermountain Research Station Research Paper INT-468. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

This study takes a detailed look at conflicts between hikers and recreational stock users in three wilderness areas: the John Muir Wilderness; the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness and the Charles C. Deam Wilderness. Using the goal interference model proposed by Jacob and Schreyer, along with modifications suggested by subsequent research, the determinants of conflict between these two users groups were assessed through user surveys. Three measures of conflict (two attitudinal - enjoyment/dislike and a 5-point Likert scale of desirable to undesirable - and one goal interference - interference with with the quality of a wilderness experience) were used to assess 17 potential predictors of conflict. The predictors of conflict more accurately predicted attitudinal measures of conflict than they predicted the goal interference measure of conflict, which is a result consistent with other research. Strong and consistent predictors of conflict between hikers and horse users were general feelings of inappropriateness of horse use in wilderness, differences in perceptions of visitors' status related to horse use, differences in the strength of attachment to the wilderness, and the value placed on opportunities for solitude. From a management perspective, the option of separating uses by providing some trails for hikers only is generally supported by hikers, but not by horse users. The authors conclude that while persuasive and educational messages may reduce conflict between hikers and horse users, if managers fail to reduce the number of encounters that create conflict or impacts of horse use that hikers label as inappropriate, they may find some restrictions on horse use to be necessary.

Hunters and Others

Vaske, J., M. Donnelly, K. Wittmann and S. Laidlaw. 1995. "Interpersonal versus social-values conflict." Leisure Sciences 17(3): 205-222.

This study empirically examines the theoretical distinction between interpersonal conflict and conflict in social values using empirical data from surveys of visitors to Mt. Evans, Colorado. The results of the study indicate that interpersonal conflicts between hunters and nonhunters are relatively low, with very few nonhunters or former hunters seeing an animal being shot (less than 5%), seeing people hunting (10% or less), and hearing gunshots (15% or less). More people had seen others feeding wildlife, between 43% of nonhunters and 62% for hunters, and disturbing or harassing wildlife, 18% for nonhunters to 37% for hunters. Generally however, the natural visual barriers and the managing agency's regulations that prohibit hunting near the road were minimized due to the mountain's natural visual barriers. However, to the extent that conflict exists with hunting associated event son Mt. Evans, much of problem stems from differences in social values held by hunting and nonhunting publics. For many of measures reported above, there was more reported perceived problems than there were observed events. Analyses examining the interaction between type of visitor (hunters versus nonhunters) and number of prior visits (first visit, two to four visits, and five or more visits) suggested that conflicts in social values remained constant across frequency of visitation, but varied between visitor type.

Hay, M. J. and K. E. McConnel. 1984. "Harvesting and nonconsumptive wildlife recreation decisions." Land Economics 60(4): 388--396.

This study addresses the question of whether individuals make joint decisions to hunt and observe wildlife. Using data from national surveys conducted in 1971 and 1975, a recreation participation decision model is constructed. The analysis demonstrated some degree of complementarity between the two uses. The results point toward the important conclusion that natural resource policy decisions will not only have direct effects on the activity of interest, but important indirect effects on activities complementary to the activity of interest. When model equations are specified without considering the possibility of joint participation decisions, they may exclude important determinants, include variables incorrectly, or, in general, be misspecified.

Jet-Skis (Personal Watercraft) and Others

Roe, M. and J. Benson. 2001. "Planning for conflict resolution: Jet-ski use on the Northumberland coast." Coastal Management 29(1): 19-39.

The study takes a much different approach to most recreation conflict research, in its examination of conflicts associated with personal watercraft (PWCs) on the Northumberland coastline. Instead of research focusing on conflict situations at a specific recreation site, this research uses a survey of 150 recreation interest groups and agencies to highlight specific issues with PWCs and comment on appropriate management actions. Management suggestions included legislation, voluntary agreements, zoning, control by clubs, physical barriers, and information and publicity. The results of the survey were used to develop a strategic framework that would act as a mechanism under which conflicts could be identified and resolved. The principles adopted and the study approach and methods illustrate a useful way to provide locally relevant proposals to deal with the dilemmas of managing "new wave" sports such as jet-skiing in ecologically sensitive and aesthetically important coastal landscapes.

Multiple Types

Marcouiller, D. W. and T. Mace. 1999. Forests and regional development: Economic impacts of woodland use for recreation and timber in Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Extension.

This study's primary objective was to research the economic impact of multiple uses of the Wisconsin's forests. Of particular relevance to issues of recreation conflict, was this study's use of importance-performance measures to investigate the compatibility of alternative forest uses. In general, the results suggest that recreational and timber production uses of the forest were compatible land uses. This was more likely to be true for hunters and motorized recreationists than with the broad category of "quiet" forest recreationists. The authors intent was to identify the relative compatibility of alternative forest uses and they conclude that there are more compatibilities among forest use alternatives than there are incompatibilities. This runs counter to much traditional thought, both among academics and policymakers.

Ruddell, E. J. and J. H. Gramann. 1994. "Goal orientation, norms, and noise-induced conflict among recreation areas users." Leisure Sciences 16(2): 93-104.

This study evaluates the goal interference theory of recreation conflict using data from a survey of 338 winter visitors to Padre Island National Seashore, Texas. The goal interference model defines interpersonal conflict as behavior of others that interferes with personal recreational goals. The model also proposes that variations in personal standards of appropriate behavior for a setting were a major source of such interference. The theory, however, did not address that possibility that some goals may be more vulnerable to interference from physically obtrusive behavior than others. This study finds that visitors motivated by goals such as being with people considerate and respectful of others were more likely to perceive interference from loud radios than were visitors motivated by the goal to be with friends or other people like themselves. The authors conclude that the more the success of goal achievement rests on factors beyond the direct control of the actor, the greater the likelihood of conflict. Visitors whose individual norms for radio volumes were equal to or less tolerant than the social norm were more likely to experience interference from radios whose loudness exceeded the social norm, supporting the role of normative violations in recreation conflict.

Skiers, Snowboarders, Snowmobiles and Others

Vaske, J., R. Dyar and N. Timmons. 2004. "Skill level and recreation conflict among skiers and snowboarders." Leisure Sciences 26(2): 215-225.

This paper specifically examines the issue of participant skill level as a factor in out-group and in-group conflict by conducting surveys with skiers and snowboarders at five different Colorado ski resorts. Two particular hypotheses were tested: 1) individuals with greater skills in skiing and snowboarding would experience more conflict than those with less ability, and 2) across all skill levels, skiers and snowboarders would experience more out-group than in-group conflict. A total of 383 skiers and 212 snowboarders were asked to rate their skill level on a four-point scale (beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert). Conflict was measured by asking respondents the frequency with which other skiers or snowboarders a) failed to be aware of others around them, b) were not keeping an adequate distance from others, c) failed to yield the right of way to the downhill skier/snowboarder, d) behaved in a discourteous manner, e) cut others off, and f) failed to be aware of and yield to less advanced skiers/snowboarders. The results of the study supported both hypotheses. As perceived skill level increased, out-group and in-group conflict increased for both skiers and snowboarders. Within each skill level, skiers reported more unacceptable behaviors by snowboarders than with fellow skiers, and snowboarders also identified more out-group than in-group conflict.

Vitterso, J., R. Chipeniuk, M. Skar and O. Vistad. 2004. "Recreational conflict is affective: The case of cross-country skiers and snowmobiles." Leisure Sciences 26(3): 227-243.

The study used a novel field experiment to test the assumption that subjective feelings are important in recreation conflict. During a weekend, cross-country skiers in a popular recreation area were assigned randomly to an experimental group who were exposed to an operating snowmobile, and a control group who were not exposed. In the experimental group, skiers were asked to fill out a self-administered survey shortly after encountering a snowmobile, while skiers in the control group filled out a self-administered survey without having been exposed to a snowmobile. Surveys respondents were given no clue as to the relationship of the snowmobile and survey being conducted. Results showed that relative to the control group, skiers who encountered a snowmobile had the quality of their affective experiences - as measured by feelings of relaxation, peacefulness, joy, harmony, annoyance - significantly reduced. This result points to the subjective nature of recreation conflict. Furthermore, the encounter with the snowmobile effected the participants' beliefs about the extent to which noise from snowmobiles disturbed the quality of ski-touring in general.

Vaske, J., P. Carothers, M. Donnelly and B. Baird. 2000. "Recreation conflict among skiers and snowboarders." Leisure Sciences 22(4): 297-313.

In this study, a measure of perceived safety is added to Jacob and Schreyer's (1980) four determinants of recreation conflict to examine both out-group and in-group normative beliefs about unacceptable behaviors for skiers and snowboarders. Data was collected through surveys at five ski resorts in Colorado and included survey responses from 383 skiers and 212 snowboarders. The results indicate that skiers reported more unacceptable behaviors by snowboarders than by fellow skiers, and snowboarders likewise reported more unacceptable behaviors by skiers than by fellow snowboarders. The skiers and snowboarders in this study varied in terms of the four goal interference determinants of conflict - activity style, resource specificity, mode of experience, lifestyle tolerance - and the fifth determinant - safety. Only one of the determinants, activity style, significantly influenced both out-group and in-group conflict in both the skier and the snowboarder path models. The results suggest that the goal interference model may be more applicable to out-group conflict. The path models, however, only explained a high of 44% of the variance in conflict in the skier out-group model and a low of 10% in the skier in-group model.

Gibbons, S. and E. Ruddell. 1995. "The effect of goal orientation and place dependence on select goal interferences among winter backcountry users." Leisure Sciences 17(3): 171-183.

This study uses the goal interference theory of conflict to examine the a newly emerging conflict between helicopter skiing and other winter recreationists. In particular, this study examines two of Jacob and Schreyer's propositions for variables that lead to conflict: goal orientation and place dependence. This study surveyed 244 helicopter skiers and 266 non-motorized backcountry users in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. Like many previous studies, this research found a significant asymmetrical group conflict with helicopter skiers being impacted very little by non-motorized backcountry users. Group type was the strongest predictor of whether helicopter skiing would cause goal interference. Relationships between goal orientation, place dependence, and goal interference varied depending on the kind of interference attribution and the kind of goal involved. Goal orientation was associated with setting-based goal interferences regardless of whether attributions were made to helicopter skiing or more general discourteous behavior. Place dependence was associated with both setting-based and activity-based goal interferences, but only when attributions were made to helicopter skiing.

Jackson, E. L. and R. A. G. Wong. 1982. "Perceived conflict between urban cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in Alberta." Journal of Leisure Research 14(1): 47-62.

This study looks at three indicators of perceived conflict between urban cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in Alberta, Canada. The results indicate that conflict between these groups is asymmetrical with skier perceiving snowmobilers interfering negatively with their activity, while snowmobilers are indifferent to meeting skiers. While snowmobilers do not have conflict with skiers on the trail, they may have negative attitudes towards skiers because of off-site confrontations. The conflict between skiers and snowmobilers is seen as being more fundamental than simply a conflict between these two activities. Cross-country skiers have an aversion to mechanization in recreation and are motivated to recreate in order fulfill needs of solitude, tranquility, physical exercises, and to develop an awareness of the natural environment. In contrast, snowmobilers are more machine-orientated, with a leaning towards socialization, adventurousness, and escapism.

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