Odinn Steinsson

The Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (MK) in northeastern BC is about 6.4 million hectares and is known for its largely unroaded nature, cultural, ecological and geographical diversity. Many research conducted in this field have focused on the study of wilderness perception. This research focused on the social perception of wilderness within user groups of the MK and examined how various wilderness experiences may be expressed in various ways. In this qualitative research, I conducted and analyzed in-depth, semi-structured interviews with MK users. The results indicate that users believe the MK is a prime wilderness and as such needs to be protected, for example from getting hit too hard by increasing traffic. Some important wilderness attributes the users of the MK are looking to experience when visiting the MK, are solitude, peace and quiet, and seeing the wildlife. Type of recreation and type of transportation were thought to have an impact on the wilderness perception, and while some of the users feel they can get the wilderness experience close to the highway, others feel they have to be remote. Wilderness and natural resource development were thought to be incompatible by the majority of the users, although much of the access has been created by the industry and were appreciated by some of the users. From a practical perspective, information from this project can be used by organizations such as the Muskwa-Kechika Advisory Board to help identify how specific resource development proposals might impact various wilderness experiences.