Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

William E. Hammitt

Committee Members

Robert Orr, Paul Wishart


Vegetation management practices along a scenic parkway may be very costly. A finely manicured appearance requires regular mowing and trimming while a less manicured appearance requires less maintenance. Many benefits that recreation visitors receive are directly related to how the visual environment is managed and presented (Hammitt 1980; Mercer 1975; Moeller et al. 1974). Driving for pleasure and sightseeing depend greatly on perception of the visual environment. By learning how visitors perceive vegetation management practices along a scenic parkway, natural resource managers could identify preferred scenes and possibly modify some management practices. These modifications could help reduce maintenance costs while making parkways more attractive to visitors. This study was designed to determine visitor attitudes and preferences on vegetation management practices and alternatives along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photographs were used in a questionnaire to represent various types of vegetation management. The photos were used as the stimuli for visitors to recall similar vegetation scenes along the Parkway and to present simulations of other possible vegetation management techniques and alternatives. The study used an information treatment as a first page in one-half of the questionnaires. The treatment was used to determine whether or not information can make a significant difference in visitor attitudes and preferences toward vegetation management practices. The treatment combined an environmental message and a statement of money savings to tax payers through less intensive vegetation management. Survey questionnaires were given to 600 Blue Ridge Parkway visitors during the summer of 1982. The questionnaire presented vegetation management practices by using pairs of photos with a brief clarifying statement below each photo. The scenes depicted different levels of vegetation management at overlook vistas and along roadsides. Visitors indicated the preference for each photo as compared to its pair (on a Likert scale). The questionnaire also contained twelve vegetation management alternative statements. These statements were designed to obtain respondent attitudes on practices related but not identical to those depicted in the photos. Data were analyzed for preferences of photographs, attitudes on vegetation management statements, and the effect of the information treatment. Results indicated that roadside scenes with less mowing were highly preferred. Vista overlooks were preferred with some low foreground and middleground vegetation within the photograph. Scenes containing wildflowers were highly preferred while roadsides with no mowing and vistas with over 50% of the view blocked were the least preferred. Attitudes on the vegetation management statements paralleled the photo preferences closely. The information treatment used appeared to be effective on respondent attitudes and preferences on only a few roadside mowing scenes.

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