Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Forest Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Richard Schreyer


Richard Schreyer


Rick Krannich


Rob Lilieholm


Questionnaires which assessed attitudes toward wilderness policies and behavioral norms were distributed to individuals at the Irish Wilderness, in the surrounding communities, and to conservation groups. Questions were designed to describe general wilderness policies and also those policies specific to the Irish Wilderness. The Irish Wilderness, located in southeastern Missouri, was designated as a national wilderness area in 1984. Prior to this 1986 study, no previous studies had been conducted in the area to describe visitor characteristics and attitudes toward wilderness management policies. A comparison was also made between the attitudes of the Irish Wilderness visitor and of Pacific Northwest wilderness visitors (Hendee et al., 1968).

Three hypotheses were tested: (1) differences exist between experienced and nonexperienced individuals in their perception of what constitutes wilderness norms as defined by the 1964 Wilderness Act, (2) differences do not exist between western and midwestern wilderness visitors and their attitudes toward proper wilderness behavior and norms, and (3) individuals with prior Irish Wilderness visits will exhibit a more purist attitude toward administrative goals set for the Irish Wilderness than those individuals with less wilderness experience.

The findings of this study show that visitors with the most wilderness experience respond more favorably to statements which reflect the ideals and goals of the 1964 Wilderness Act. This corresponds with information provided in Young's (1982) study which stated that the experienced visitor would exhibit a more purist attitude in regards to wilderness behavior. Also, respondents from the Irish Wilderness study differed from the respondents in the Pacific Northwest study in their attitudes toward acceptable wilderness norms and behaviors. In most cases, Irish Wilderness respondents were more favorable to statements which reflected the goals of the 1964 Wilderness Act, although the amount of time which had elapsed between the two studies (15 years) should be taken into consideration.

Previous experience in the Irish Wilderness appeared to play a role in the individual's concurrence and compliance with the administrative policies of the area. This may also coincide with the fact that particular needs of the individual are being met within the wilderness area.

Successful management of wilderness areas may be enhanced by recognizing the needs of the individual and seeing that those needs mesh with the area's entire realm of wilderness attributes, of which recreational activities are a small part.