Forest Service visitor surveys coming to a forest near you

RBC | Starting Oct. 7, the White River National Forest began conducting National Visitor Use Monitoring Surveys (NVUM). The surveys will take place across the forest over the next year in randomly selected locations where visitors are entering and exiting the forest. NVUM surveys are conducted every 5 years on all national forests in the country. In 2011, the NVUM conducted on the White River National Forest determined that there were approximately 12.3 million forest visits, making the White River National Forest the busiest recreation forest in the nation. “If you see a surveyor over the next year, I encourage you to participate,” stated Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest Supervisor. “This is your opportunity to give feedback about your National Forest experience. The survey is an essential tool for long-term recreation planning for the Forest, it gives us baseline data from which to make decisions and gauge future needs.” The public is encouraged to take the survey provided by the program. Visitor counts are important tools that provide recreation trends over time. The information is used for forest planning and local community tourism planning. It provides managers with an estimate of how many people recreate on federal lands and what activities they engage in while on the forest. Other important information includes how satisfied people are with their visit and the economic impact of recreation visits on local economies. “Now is a critical time to give feedback about your recreational experience,” stated Fitzwilliams. “With a steadily declining budget and limited staff capacity, we need to know what the state of the recreational experience is on the forest, and where and how to focus the recreational budget for future planning.” The more information we know about the visitors, especially their satisfaction and desires, the better Forest Service and local community providers can meet recreational needs and plan for the future. Interviewers conducting the surveys will be wearing bright orange vests and be stationed near a sign that says “Traffic Survey Ahead.” Interviewers are waiting to talk to visitors about their experience. As you exit the forest, please pull over for an interview. The survey is voluntary and confidential and a basic interview lasts about 8 minutes. It is important for interviewers to talk with local people using the forest as well as out-of-area visitors so all types of visitors are represented in the study. If you have any questions about this program you can visit the National Visitor Use Monitoring website at www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum/ or call Kay Hopkins at 970-945-3265.