Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. John Van Willigen


Utilizing quantitative and qualitative methods, this in-depth ethnographic study of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BSFNRRA) examines social conflict and resistance stemming from competing values, definitions, and concerns over the management of cultural and natural resources within the region. The timing of this project is fortuitous for the National Park Service (NPS) has completed the creation of a ten year General Management Plan. Thus, we are provided with an opportunity to study and analyze the policy and methodology that park officials are required to follow in creating a management plan and eliciting public participation.

The first goal of this study is to ascertain how the establishment of the BSFNRRA has altered local communities: (1) means of access to the area and (2) uses of resources within

the area. Several questions will be asked and probed for answers. What happens to the meanings of the land and places on the land (such as a family cemetery) when the land is transformed from private to public ownership and is managed by a government agency for the benefit of preservation or recreation? How have residents been affected by and adapted to this transformation?

The second goal is to probe the complex relationships and identify sources of conflict, resistance, and cooperation between community residents, NPS employees, and special interest groups. Essential questions arise and must be addressed. How are conflict, resistance, and cooperation demonstrated?

The third goal is to delineate what measures can be taken to lessen conflict or resistance and promote cooperation? Since resistance often manifests itself in not participating in public meetings pertaining to the BSFNRRA, what measures can be taken to promote public participation?

In conclusion, this study will draw clear and concise recommendations towards diminishing conflict between local residents and the NPS, along with recommendations on increasing public participation in the creation of policy pertaining to the management of public land. In addition to the applied aspect of this project, this study contributes to the body of theory by building on the mentalist paradigm of symbolic interactionism and the materialist paradigms of conflict and resistance theory.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



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