Symbolic dimensions of the packstock debate

Steven D. Moore, Mitchel P. McClaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The use of pack animals to transport people and equipment into wilder­ness has become increasingly controversial. Advocates of greater packstock restric­tion point to evidence of ecological and sociological impacts. Packstock supporters defend the traditional role of packstock in wilderness and call for greater self­regulation. This article proposes that the conflict results from the clash of three symbolic realms of belief: (1) wilderness as a sacred object; (2) arguments against packstock derived from an ecologistic ordering of wilderness; and (3) a cognitive ordering of the conflict that allows moral pain to be felt on both sides. Three hypothe­ses about wilderness managers ’ attitudes toward symbolic statements were proposed and tested by using univariate statistics and bivariate and multivariate logistic analy­sis. The results indicate strong support for wilderness symbolism and less strong support for packstock symbolism. Numbers of packstock trips, Government Service grade, number of years in the current position, education, and perceived environ­mental impacts influenced these attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-237
Number of pages17
JournalLeisure Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991


  • Ecology
  • Packstock
  • Public problems
  • Sacred wilderness
  • Symbolism
  • Wilderness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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