Conflict among hikers and horseback riders in the Mount Rogers High Country of Virginia

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Virginia Tech


Conflict among recreationists in natural resource settings is a long-term problem that continues to grow in many areas. This study was conducted to provide an assessment of conflict between hikers and horseback riders in the Mount Rogers High Country of Virginia.

Conflict was examined using three separate measures: crowding, impacts and interference. Examination of an index measure of conflict revealed that 64% of hikers experienced conflict toward horseback riders, while only 3% of horseback riders reported conflict due to hikers.

Because of the clearly asymmetric nature of the conflict, the conflict predictor variables (past experience, wilderness involvement, place attachment and perceived similarity) were examined for the hiker population in the study. Discriminant analysis revealed that the model tested can predict with more than 68% success whether hikers will experience conflict due to horses. The perceived similarity of values variable was shown to be the most important and perceived similarity of socio-economic status the second in importance in explaining conflict. Hikers that perceived horseback riders to be different from themselves in how they value the High Country and in their socio-economic status were more likely to experience conflict with horseback riders than hikers that perceived horseback riders as similar to themselves.

Measures of past experience and wilderness involvement were also significant predictors of conflict. However, relative to the perceived similarity items, these variables did not contribute much information or "predictive power" to the model. The two place attachment factors, place identity and place dependence, were not significant in the model.