Riparian landowners' perceptions of recreational use of Virginia's waterways

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to determine the background characteristics of the riparian landowners of Virginia, to identify any problems with river recreationists, and to explore their attitudes toward recreational boating on their river and toward scenic river designations. During the summer of 1977 a mailback questionnaire was sent to 1129 landowners living along randomly selected segments of 29 scenic rivers of Virginia. Seventy percent of the 995 eligible respondents returned the questionnaire, providing the data for this study.

It was found that most riparian landowners are middle-aged, well-educated members of the middle class who have lived in Virginia most of their lives. Slightly over half of all the landowners live on their property year-round and have lived there for many years. Littering, trespassing, and invasion of privacy are the problems most frequently encountered by landowners.

Generally landowners have a positive attitude toward recreational boating and scenic river designations. Three-fifths approve of recreational boating on their own river and think boaters should be allowed to use any river in the state. Two-thirds of the landowners advocate protection of the scenic values of their river, and three-fourths support scenic river efforts. It is suggested that this positive attitude be encouraged by promoting local participation in the planning and management of scenic rivers in Virginia.