A Survey of River Corridor Owners' Perception of Land Use and Management Problems along Wisconsin's Pine, Popple and Pike State Wild Rivers
Kushman, Karen Gwenn
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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During the summer of 1977, a study was done to determine river corridor owners' perceptions of problems and preferences in the management of Wisconsin's Pine, Popple, and Pike State Wild Rivers. Mail return questionnaires were sent to each of the 422 river corridor owners of which 241 (57%) were returned. In addition, 45 resident river corridor owners were contacted in person or by telephone. In Part I of the questionnaire, Knowledge and Opinion of State Wild River Policy, it was found that a majority of the river corridor owners did not know what wild river policy was and answered only seven of the seventeen policy and law statements correctly. The majority of the river corridor owners agreed in principle with eleven of the seventeen policy and law statements. The second part of the questionnaire, Preference for Policy Implementation, provides some explanation for landowners' opposition to the Wild River Program. The majority (76%) of the river corridor owners would like to improve cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Fifty-seven percent of the landowners oppose state acquisition of land along the wild rivers. The major reasons for disagreeing with state acquisition of land are: (a) river corridor owners do not want the area to become crowded with recreationists and increase the severity of people problems, and (b) river corridor owners believe that as a result of partial governmental ownership, condemnation of other private property will occur. Most landowners prefer the following alternative methods to implement the policy: tax incentives (69%), written agreements (62%), zoning (54%), or a combination of these techniques. Forty percent of the river corridor owners indicated a need for new or revised laws to reduce the present restrictions of use and development along the rivers. In Part III of the questionnaire, Identification of Wild River management Problems, it was found that river property owners do not perceive most problems as severe, but were concerned about litter, vandalism, and trespassing. Landowners view recreationists as causing the major problems and cottage owners as causing the minor problems. Landowners appreciate the need for regulation to manage and guide recreational use along the rivers as stated in Part IV, Preferences for Types of River Management. For example, 54% of the landowners supported limiting camping and 47% wanted to limit camping to the use of tents only. The majority of river corridor owners (82%) indicated that recreationists should be made more aware of rules and regulations of the Wild Rivers Law. In Part V, Cooperation with Local Units of Government, landowners ( 75%) indicated that the DNR is doing a poor to fair job in providing active leadership and cooperating with local landowners and governmental units as called for in the Wisconsin Statute (30.26, 1965). Public involvement is not only required by law, but it is desired by the landowners. In conclusion, four general recommendations for future management evolved from this study and past research: (1) increase public involvement of citizens in the wild river planning and decision-making process, (2) develop a recreation management program to guide recreational use along the rivers, (3) develop alternative techniques to implement the policy, (4) appoint a Wild River Specialist to be responsible for the administration of the program.