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“ To promote perception [of nature] is the only truly creative part of recreational engineering.” Leopold (1966) PowerPoint Presentation
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“ To promote perception [of nature] is the only truly creative part of recreational engineering.” Leopold (1966). The Environmental Perceptions of Whitewater Kayakers Dissertation Proposal. T. Jason Davis Ph.D. Candidate Clemson University. Committee Members. Dr. Rob Bixler (Chair)

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“To promote perception [of nature] is the only truly creative part of recreational engineering.” Leopold (1966)
the environmental perceptions of whitewater kayakers dissertation proposal

The Environmental Perceptionsof Whitewater KayakersDissertation Proposal

T. Jason Davis

Ph.D. Candidate

Clemson University

committee members

Committee Members

Dr. Rob Bixler (Chair)

Dr. Fran McGuire

Dr. Bill Norman

Dr. Dewayne Moore

problem statement
Problem Statement
  • Research that has been conducted describing outdoor recreationists (specifically “risk” recreationists) interaction with the natural environment is fragmented, usually involving only one component of the recreation experience. This research is an attempt to better understand whitewater kayakers, specifically their environmental perceptions utilizing widely used outdoor recreation measurements.
study objectives
Study Objectives
  • Describe the differences in whitewater kayakers, based on demographics, experience use history (EUH), social group, trip motivations and river being kayaked
  • Determine the environmental perceptions of whitewater kayakers based on trip motivations, social group, EUH and river being kayaked
  • Determine if whitewater kayakers’ environmental perceptions can be utilized to categorize them into meaningful groups
study objectives6
Study Objectives
  • Construct a path model to determine the interrelationships of motivation, social group, river and EUH with environmental perception
  • 24.2 million whitewater recreationists, 12% of adult population (Lewis & Cordell, 1995)
  • Whitewater boating one of the fastest growing human-powered outdoor recreation sports (President’s Commission on the Outdoors, 1987)
  • 2.6 million kayakers (Cordell, 1999)
  • Dramatic increase in kayaking: due to increase in technology, diffusion of information and glamorization of “high risk” activities by the media
  • Potential resource damage due to increase in the number of kayakers
  • Less than 1 percent of the river miles in the U.S. have whitewater rapids (Class II or better)
  • Unique and valuable resource
  • Whitewater Kayaker
    • Kayakers
    • Open boaters and whitewater rafters will not be sampled
  • Whitewater
    • Class II and above




environmental perception conceptual model
Environmental PerceptionConceptual Model








recreation resource management
Recreation Resource Management


Resource User



Activity Setting

*The actual physical environment and perceived environment

outdoor recreation participation williams 1985
Outdoor Recreation ParticipationWilliams, 1985
  • Three Components
    • Activities
      • Recreation activity (i.e. Whitewater kayaking)
    • Settings
      • Natural Environment (i.e. river)
    • Companions
      • Social Group (individual, two people, or group)
three components of outdoor recreation
Three Components of Outdoor Recreation





River (s)

Social Group









human component
Human Component
  • Past experience (EUH)-behavioral component
  • Knowledge
  • Socio-cultural context of individuals and groups
  • Expectations & values
landscape component
Landscape Component
  • Individual elements (i.e. Rocks, trees, etc.)
  • Landscapes as entities (i.e. River environments)
  • Built and natural features
landscape perception paradigms
Landscape Perception Paradigms
  • The Expert Paradigm
    • Involves evaluation of landscape quality by skilled and trained experts.
  • The Psychophysical Paradigm
    • Involves assessment through testing general public or selected populations’ evaluations of landscape aesthetic qualities or specific properties.
landscape perception paradigms19
Landscape Perception Paradigms
  • The Cognitive Paradigm
    • Involves a search for human meaning associated with landscape or landscape properties. Information is received by the human observer and in conjunction with past experience, future expectation, and sociocultural conditioning, lends meaning to landscape.
  • The Experiential Paradigm
    • Considers landscape values to be based on the experience of the human-landscape interaction, whereby both are shaping and being shaped by the interactive process.
zube 1981 model
Zube, 1981 Model

Recreation Experience




Social context


Physical elements

Locational context











Psychological well being

social groups
Social Groups
  • A social group is composed of individuals who recognize themselves as part of that group and are recognized by others as part of that group (Cheek & Burch, 1976)
  • “Social groups, be they composed of family members, peers, neighbors, friends, club associates, workmates, and so on, may be the overriding determinant of recreational choice” (Bammel, 1992 p. 337)
  • Most outdoor activities take place in group settings and involve different people at different times. (Heywood, 1987)
social groups22
Social Groups
  • Being with people was the 4th most important reason why people participate in their most favorite activity (Allen & Donnelly 1985)
  • There is a relationship between level of expertise for rock climbers and social groups (Hollenhorst, 1987)
    • Skill level increase from beginner to highly skilled, social group affiliation changed from family to peers with similar interest
social groups23
Social Groups
  • Social group can be a good predictor of level of engagement (involvement) Ewert & Hollenhorst, 1989.
  • Schuett (1995) classified kayakers based on difficulty of river run or class of river, social motivations for participating in kayaking and group size.
social groups24
Social Groups
  • Whitewater kayak social groups as indicated by Schuett (1995)
    • Classes (commercial trips)
    • Guide (commercial trips)
    • Alone
    • Friends (people you knew before the trip, social activity)
    • Teachers
    • Outing clubs
    • Fellow paddlers (people you didn’t know before the trip)
  • “The most prevalent approach to understanding recreation in resource management has been a motivational approach that views recreation as an intrinsically rewarding experience rather than an activity” (Driver & Torcher, 1970 Page #)
  • Recreational engagement can be defined as “a package of specific psychological outcomes, which are realized from a recreation engagement…” (Manfredo, Driver, & Brown, 1983 p. 264)
  • Motivation is a “specific psychological outcome” behaviors will be expressed that enable the attainment of the desired psychological outcome
  • There are different motivations for participating in various outdoor recreation activities, but intra-activity differences might also exist
experience use history euh
Experience Use History (EUH)
  • A person with a significant history of engagement in a recreation activity will have different perceptions (schema, routines, skills and habits) than beginners (Schreyer & Lime, 1984)
  • This difference is more readily apparent in activities that require high level of skill (i.e. rock climbing and whitewater boating)
  • “Persons seeking different types of experiences may require different environmental conditions for satisfaction” (Schreyer & Lime, 1984 p. 133)
  • The setting in outdoor recreation is an integral part of the experience. In whitewater kayaking, it is essential to the experience.
    • (less than 1% of the rivers in the U.S. have class II water or higher)
techniques to describe interactions
Techniques to describe interactions
  • Recreation Specialization (Bryan, 1977)
    • A multidimensional construct with behavioral and affective aspects of which past experience is a strong component. A continuum along which people progress from the general to the specific.
      • Novices
      • Generalists
      • Technique specialists
      • Technique/setting specialists
  • Place Identity (Prohansky, Fabian, & Kamanoff, 1983)
    • Referred to as a combination of attitudes, thoughts, values, beliefs and meanings reaching far beyond emotional attachment and belonging to particular places
techniques to measure perception
Techniques to measure perception
  • Visitor Employed Photography (VEP)
    • Visitors photograph the landscape and the researcher or group categorizes the photographs
  • Experience Sampling Model (ESM)
    • Photographs or journals (visitor is cued and asked to record what they are observing)
  • Visitor Generated list (Perkins, 1990)
    • Visitor is asked to recall the experience and write down what they perceived (
environmental perception conceptual model32
Environmental PerceptionConceptual Model








proposed methods
Proposed Methods
  • On-site questionnaire
  • 4 regional rivers (Southeast)
    • Nantahala (North Carolina)
    • Chattooga (South Carolina/Georgia)
    • Ocoee (Tennessee)
    • Tallulah Gorge (Georgia)
  • Post trip intercepts
study sites
Study Sites
  • Nantahala River
    • Dam controlled
    • 250,000 whitewater trips a year
    • Class II-IV whitewater (beginner-intermediate)
  • Chattooga River
    • Wild and Scenic River (designated in 1974)
    • One of the longest free-flowing mountain rivers in the Southeast
    • 28,600 users in 1974, 84,502 users in 1997
    • Class II-VI (beginner-expert)
study sites35
Study Sites
  • Ocoee River
    • Dam controlled highly managed river
    • Class III-IV rapids (intermediate)
    • Highly used by rafting companies
    • USFS, TVA, Tennessee State Parks
  • Tallulah Gorge
    • Dam controlled, Georgia Power, Georgia State Parks
    • Releases in Fall and Spring
    • Once permitted, now open
    • Class V rapids (expert only)
  • EUH
  • Social Group
  • Motivations
  • River kayaked
  • Environmental Perception
it is hypothesized that
It is hypothesized that
  • Differences do exist in kayakers based on social group, demographics, EUH and rivers kayaked
  • Environmental perceptions are different for kayakers based on motivations, social group, developmental state, EUH and river kayaked.
  • Kayakers can be classified into meaningful groups which are distinct based on environmental perceptions.
it is hypothesized that38
It is hypothesized that
  • It is possible to determine environmental perceptions based on motivations, social group, developmental stage, EUH and river kayaked.