The District Recreation Survey Project

Green Mountain National Forest, Sherburne Trails Trailhead

Brian Hawthorne had an interesting idea for the Coronavirus Challenge.

In the February 17, 2020 post “Defining Recreation and Tourism Impacts on Federal Lands. I. The Outdoor Recreation Economy and Wilderness” Sharon proposed a series exploring
current trends in recreation and tourism and their impacts on federal lands.

As the post explained. and the comments proved, this is a wide ranging topic. That said, I believe there could be value in relatively narrow “hard look” at what the current trends are in
recreation on federally managed lands — and how those trends and the related impacts could be addressed via planning and management.

It would be possible to gather some highly useful information from a brief survey directed at a Forest level. A very rough draft is below for review. Please feel free to respond with thoughts
and suggested questions.

I propose it be sent to Colorado’s GMUG (Grand Mesa, Gunnison and Uncompahgre) National Forest. Only because it has the almost the full range of recreational uses and does a
decent job of leveraging volunteers and state/county agency/grant programs. If this effort is successful/useful — maybe then all of R2 and beyond?

The survey should be something that would take a rec person no more than 20-25 minutes to fill out. It should also be possible send the same survey to relevant state and county program leads.

Assuming USFS staff responds to the survey, a nominal baseline of trends could be determined. At least for that Forest.

Here are some very draft questions to consider:
1) Please list the top 4 rec activities occurring on your RD
2) What are the trends you see in rec activities occurring on your RD, specifically, of the 4 listed above, which are increasing, decreasing, changing?
3) What recreation activities would you describe as new?
4) What are the (4?) most significant problems with recreation in your RD?
5) Do you have any fee areas?
6) Do you leverage volunteer programs to assist in managing recreation?
7) Aside from agency funding, are there any funding sources you use to help manage

Please respond with thoughts and suggested questions….

Some of my (Sharon’s) thoughts: this could be an example of co-production, co-design and co-analysis of research, if we could get permission for a Region-wide or national survey.

Another thought I have is perhaps there is a difference between scientific, or “understanding what’s going on” kinds of questions, and management questions. Those would be those designed to encourage and support people working in recreation, and listen to their own ideas for improvement and their own troubles and success stories. For example, a management question might be “what three things could be done internally by the Forest Service to make things better?” “what three things could the public do to make things better?” “Is there an idea you would try if you could?”

And perhaps more “sciency”: “what environmental impacts concern you the most about recreation? Is there research that you think needs to be done regarding some aspect of environmental impacts or other questions?”

For now let’s generate some ideas for questions. Again, the survey would be targeted at people working on a Ranger District in recreation.

2 thoughts on “The District Recreation Survey Project”

  1. I am pleased to see all these nice photos of these kiosks with maps and what not at the trailheads. Seems like on the Willamette, Umpqua, and Rouge Siskiyou, all you get is, take your trash out.
    Kind of off subject, but I currently have a lot of time on my hands.

    • I do wonder how much is financially driven versus cultural expectations in an area (internal and external). Are the forests with nice signs getting “too much” recreation funding?


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