The applicability of conflict theories in outdoor recreation : a case study of hikers and recreational stock users in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/t435gh12d

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  • There were two purposes for this thesis. First, it sought to define and clarify key concepts of recreational conflicts based on a literature review on the concept of conflict in the social sciences in general and in outdoor recreation. Second, it tested several hypotheses emerging from the preceding literature review with a case study of conflict between hikers and stock users in the Eagle Cap Wilderness (Oregon). The case study examined the extent to which conflict exists between hikers and recreational stock users and the causes, level, and nature of, as well as management options for, this conflict. It was found that hikers and stock users differ significantly in regard to demographics, attitudes, and the nature of conflicts with one another, with hikers being significantly more in conflict with stock users than vice versa. The variables hypothesized to explain an individual's conflict with the other user group (i e, hikers toward stock users and stock users toward hikers) were: (1) support for management actions, (2) tolerance for different activities in the wilderness, (3) different levels of solitude desired when visiting the wilderness, (4) previous wilderness experience, (5) perceived similarity! dissimilarity compared to the other user group, (6) perceived ecological impacts of the other user group, and (7) environmental attitudes and political orientation. Results of multiple regression analysis provided at least partial support for all of the hypotheses, with importance of solitude being the single most important predictor. The conflict of hikers toward stock users was of specific interest because it was stronger than that of stock users toward hikers; almost one out of two hikers disliked meeting stock users while only 8% of stock users expressed negative feelings toward hikers. The significant predictors in the model of hikers' conflict with stock users were, in addition to solitude, tolerance for stock users, previous wilderness experience, perceived differences between hikers and stock users, and political orientation. These variables explained 54% of the variation in the conflict variable. Respondents were also asked what should be done about the conflict they experienced. These responses, combined with the literature review and the research findings on the causes of conflicts, formed the basis for the discussion of management implications. Seven principles of conflict management emerged from the study: (1) fundamental value conflicts are inevitable and irresolvable, while disputes related to a specific situation can be managed or solved; (2) conflicts are not inherently good or bad; (3) conflicts form a continuum ranging from mild difference to physical violence, and each conflict stage warrants different kinds of management actions; (4) managers should use the least stringent action likely to produce the desired outcome (minimum tool rule); (5) understanding the multiple origins (causes) of conflicts can improve recreation planning process both by enabling planners to reduce the likelihood for conflicts in advance and by helping management choose effective conflict management techniques; (6) conflict escalation might be necessary for its effective management; and (7) management of conflicts should be proactive, incorporated in the general recreation management process.
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