Date of Award

Spring 2011

Project Type


Program or Major

Recreation Management and Policy

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Charles Boyd Hegarty


This study investigates conflict between recreational trail users in Middlesex Fells Reservation during the winter season, specifically conflict between cross-country skiers, snowshoers/hikers/nature walkers and dog owners. Conflict in outdoor recreation can be theoretically classified as (1) interpersonal, where the physical presence of another individual or group directly interferes with one's goals, and (2) social values conflict, where groups do not share the same norms or social values, regardless of physical presence of other groups. Data were collected at five trail heads using a quantitative, on-site survey design. Data were analyzed from respondents in three major activity groups who had previously recreated in Middlesex Fells Reservation (N = 206). This study found that all three activity groups experienced interpersonal conflict with dog owners not keeping their dog on a leash and not cleaning up after their dog. Cross-country skiers experienced interpersonal or social values conflict with other activity groups disrupting physical trail conditions. The findings of this study supported management decisions proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, including allocating trail use for cross-country skiers, and increased enforcement of leash and dog waste cleanup policies.