Leave No Person Behind: Exploring How Demographic Categories Shape LNT Principles Among Climbers in West Virginia's New River Gorge

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Agriculture & Tourism


Mitigating the environmental impact of rock climbing remains an important task for land managers. Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles offer a proven approach to minimizing outdoor recreation users’ impacts on public lands, and this approach has similarly been shown effective among climbers. In recent years, climbing organizations have introduced minimum impact education programs, such as the Climber’s Pact, which ask climbers to publicly commit to practicing minimum impact actions. Climbing organizations are also offering inclusivity programs aimed at making climbing communities more inclusive in terms of sex, gender, and race. These inclusivity programs often include some form of LNT education, offering a unique opportunity to examine how demographic differences may influence LNT knowledge. This study examines LNT knowledge among climbers (n=274) in West Virginia using a 28-item measure linking LNT Principles to appropriate climbing actions. The researchers found that climbers scored well overall on LNT knowledge. However, in difference of means testing, those identifying in the survey as females and people of color occasionally outscored those in their comparison categories. These findings open new avenues for studying how diversity and inclusivity programs may be improving LNT knowledge in the climbing community overall.



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Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

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