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Conflicts on Multiple-Use Trails

If you are looking for references or help with conflicts on multiple-use trails, I'd like to recommend this publication from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

(This information is taken directly from FWHA Report # FHWA-PD-94-031)

The National Recreational Trails Advisory Committee identified trail-user conflicts on multiple-use trails as a major concern that needs resolution (back in 1994). The Committee asked the FWHA to produce a synthesis of existing research to foster understanding of trail conflict, identify approaches for promoting trail-sharing, and identify gaps in current knowledge.

As a result, they produced a report that provides 12 principles for minimizing conflicts. Those principles are listed here.

1. Recognize conflicts as goal-interference - interference attributed to another's behavior.

2. Provide adequate trail opportunities - adequate mileage for a variety of trail experiences.

3. Minimize number of contacts in problem areas - reduce contact especially in congested areas.

4. Involve users as early as possible - preferably before user conflicts arise.

5. Understand user needs - motivations, experiences expectations, norms and causes of conflicts.

6. Identify the actual sources of conflict - get to the root of problems.

7. Work with affected users - strive to find mutually agreeable solutions.

8. Promote trail etiquette - use educational efforts to modify user behavior.

9. Encourage positive interaction among different users - break down barriers and misunderstandings, while building good will and cooperation.

10. Favor "light-handed" management - avoid intrusive design and coercive management.

11. Plan and act locally - garner local support and involvement by those most affected.

12. Monitor progress - stay tuned in to the changes in behavior and trail use.

This 70 page report is available online at:

I highly recommend this report for your library of helpful tools in managing or recreating on multiple-use trails.

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