Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Measuring Nature Connectivity: A Case Study of OHV Users at the Imperial Sand Dune Recreation Area
by Muilenberg, Natalie, M.A., Northern Arizona University, 2012, 107; 1518036
Abstract (Summary)

Off-roading or OHV use continues to grow and has led to increased negative impacts to the natural environment. Land managers have had difficulty satisfying both OHV users and environmental conservationists. In this study's site, the Imperial Sand Dune Recreation Area (ISDRA) in the Algodones Dunes in southern California, the Bureau of Land Management has had difficulty balancing the Endangered Species Act and allowing OHV recreation, as stated under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. This thesis focuses on exploring the true cause of environmental degradation while off-roading by examining levels of nature connectivity among OHV users at the ISDRA.

Literature since the time of ecologist and naturalist Aldo Leopold has argued that humans need nature to survive. Now, researchers argue that humans' connection to nature has decreased. This thesis used the Connectedness to Nature Scale developed by Mayer and Frantz to measure nature connectivity among a specific population of OHV users. Mayer and Frantz define nature connectivity as "understanding the extent to which people experientially view themselves as egalitarian members of the broader natural community; feel a sense of kinship with it; view themselves as belonging to the natural world as much as it belongs to them." Mayer and Frantz's survey measures the beliefs people have regarding their personal connection to nature. Nature connectivity has been linked to positive environmentally responsible behavior (ERB) in which humans participate in certain actions they deem unharmful to the environment.

An online survey was distributed to about 8,600 OHV users—most of them who recreate in the ISDRA. These OHV users are members of an off-road recreation organization called the American Sand Association (ASA). Mayer and Frantz's Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) survey was distributed to these OHV users and the data collected was used to determine to what extent OHV users believe themselves to be connected to nature. Demographic characteristics were recorded to determine specific audiences within the OHV user group. It was found that female OHV users scored higher on the CNS than males, suggesting more nature connectivity. There was not a high significance when the other demographic characteristics were compared to CNS scores. It is hoped that the low significance between CNS scores and type of user will make it easier for land managers to better educate OHV users on environmental impacts and create a stronger connection to nature.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Foti, Pamela E.
Commitee: Friederici, Peter, Hardy-Short, Dayle C.
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 51/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Sustainability, Recreation
Keywords: Education, Nature connectivity, OHV, Recreation, Sustainability, User behavior
Publication Number: 1518036
ISBN: 9781267587565
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