Research Paper: Parks and Recreation and Managing Trail Conflict

Pages: 7 (1917 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Recreation  ·  Buy This Paper

Managing Potential Trail Conflicts, Parks and Recreation

The objective of this study is to examine the management of potential trail conflicts in park and recreation planning. The appropriate park staff will be identified in management of groups utilizing the trail in the expectation that future park management will receive guidance from the information.

Trail Management

Various trail classes are identified in the Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual' (2012) including the following stated class of trails:

(1) Class 1 Trails -- Minimal and underdeveloped trails

(2) Class 2 Trails: Simple and minor development trails;

(3) Class 3 Trails: Developed and improved trails;

(4) Class 4 Trails: Highly developed trails; and (5) Class 5 Trails: Fully developed trails. (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012)

These categories are utilized in identification of applicable design of trails, trail management and standards for maintenance and managed uses. It is reported that designed use refers to the intended use of the trail that guides the trail design.

Types of Design Use Trails

Types of designed use trails are inclusive of the following:

(1) Walking;

(2) Hiking;

(3) Mountain biking;

(4) Equestrian

(5) Off road vehicles;

(6) Others that are not relative in this specific study. (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012)

Importance of Trails

The importance of trails includes the contribution that they make in connecting people to the natural environment and in making communities more livable and providing the opportunity for multiple-use recreation. In addition, trails provide educational opportunities and provide a place to experience solitude, inspiration, and observation of nature. Trails serve to protect habitats that are rare and resources that are sensitive. In order for a trail to be successful, the trail design must be "physically, economically and ecologically sustainable." (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012) Physical sustainability means that trails are design to keep their form and structure across many years of use and under the influence of nature and humans. Change is promoted by trail use and this requires that trails are designed with change in man in order to retain their physical integrity through maintenance and management practices that are appropriate. It is important that the ecological impacts to trails be minimized and that their impact on the environment be minimized. Multiple-use recreation is an importance feature of trails as well as the opportunities for educational experiences. Trails protect the habitats and natural resources in which they are situated by providing a pathway through nature that are sustainable. Trends in types of trail use are reported and include the types of uses and percentages of uses shown in the following chart labeled Figure 1.

Figure 1 -- Trail Uses and Percentages

Source: Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual (2012)

It is clearly indicated that the largest use of trails is the purpose of walking, followed closely by hiking, bicycling, dog-walking and nature study. Key factors in trail management include that each trails system should meet user expectations, minimize impacts to the ecology of the area and minimize requirement for maintenance of the trail. In the course of assessing and planning trail management, it is important that one know the trail and that maps are compiled depicting the existing trails in addition to areas that are developed, roads, facilities, boundaries of the park and maps should be inclusive of endangered species habitats, streams, wetlands, steep slopes, historic and cultural resources as well as special management areas and zones and soils restricted for development of trails. Maps should additionally make identification of the use of specific trails and recreational experiences. Management for trails includes planning for different types of groups that will use the trails and the needs of each group while making use of the trail. (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012, paraphrased)

Trails Crews

Trail crews include regular park staff, seasonal staff, and special season crews. .

Trail Signage

Trail signage enables the consistent and positive use of the trail for attracting users and to educate the user about the trail and its uses and to reassure and ensure that users are on the correct trail and will not get lost and finally to control the use of the trail, reduce trail conflicts and to create experiences that are more enjoyable, safer, and based on the recreational experience are environmentally friendly. This is accomplished through use of: (1) trailhead signs and kiosks; (2) intersection directional signs; (3) reassurance markers and blazes; and (4) interpretive displays. (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012)

Conflict management

Conflict management for trails include the considerations of: (1) style of activity; (2) focus of trip; (3) expectations of users; (4) attitudes and perceptions of the environment; (5) level of tolerance for others; and (5) different norms held by different users. (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012) Conflict is reported to be "asymmetrical" in nature. There are twelve principles stated for conflict management including the following stated principles that help to improve multiple-use trail sharing and cooperation:

(1) Recognize Conflict as Goal Interference;

(2) Make provision of adequate trail opportunities to minimize contacts;

(3) Establish appropriate user expectations;

(4) Involve users as early as possible;

(5) Understand user needs;

(6) Identify the actual sources of conflict;

(7) work with affected users;

(8) Promote trail etiquette;

(9) Encourage positive interaction among different users;

(10) Favor 'light-handed' management;

(11) plan and act locally; and (12) monitor process. (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012)

It is held by researchers that individuals participating in outdoor recreation activities "do so because they hope to gain certain rewards or outcomes. These outcomes consist of a wide variety of experiences, such as solitude, challenge, being with friends of family, testing skills, experiencing nature and others." (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012) The experiences that are desired are reported to experience great variation across activities and among participating individuals and "even within the same individual on different outings." (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012) It is reported that recreationists are "often to seeking to satisfy multiple desires in a single outing." (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012) This means that recreation behavior is "goal-directed and undertaken to satisfy desires for particular experiences." (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012) The quality of these experiences is reported to be "often measured in terms of users' overall satisfaction." (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012)

Four classes of factors that result in outdoor recreation conflict includes those stated as follows:

(1) Activity Style -- this is reported as the "various personal meaning attached to an activity including intensity of participation, status, range of experiences and definitions of quality;

(2) Resource specificity: this is repotted as the significance attached to using a specific recreation resource for a given recreation experience;

(3) Mode of experience: this is reported as varying expectation regarding the perception of the natural environment;

(5) Tolerance of lifestyle diversity: this is reported as the tendency to either accept or reject the lifestyles of others that are different. (Department of Conservation and Recreation 'Trail Guidelines and Best Practices Manual, 2012)

II. Greenway Belt, Raleigh, North Carolina: Management Project

The management project in this particular study involves the management of three specific trails in the Raleigh, North Carolina Greenway Trail system including those of: (1) Little Rock Trail, which follows Little Rock Creek from the Walnut Creek Wetland Center to downtown running 0.5 miles, the Rocky Branch Trail which follows Rocky Branch where it intersects with Walnut Creek Trail running 1.3 miles; and Walnut Creek Trail which follows Walnut Creek northwest through Raleigh from the Neuse River Trail to Walnut Creek running 1.6 miles. The following table shows the groups, dates of use, trails to be managed and the specifics for each group that will be using the park trails.

Figure 2 -- Groups Characteristics by Date and Use Type

Various group uses of trails include: (1) walking; (2) boating; (3) Frisbee throwing; (4) feeding ducks; (5) biking; (6) grilling; (7) working out; and (8) running. There is variation in the formation of groups for trail use according to gender and whether there are children that will be present during the use of the trail. Trail management staff will be appointed according to the specific trail use and the number of children present during use of the trail to ensure proper management, safety and protection to the environment. The following chart indicates by using the green highlighting, the hiking groups that have children present and to which there will be a special staff member appointed to participate in the trail use and to ensure the safety… [END OF PREVIEW]

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