A voluntary recreation use visitor survey is being conducted on the Hoosier National Forest now and will continue through September 30th of next year. This will be the fourth time the forest has conducted visitor interviews under the protocols of the National Visitor Use Monitoring program.
The nationwide survey is designed to determine how many people visited the forest and the recreation activities they participated in while there. The National Forest System conducts the surveys once every five years to look at recreation trends over time. Only visitors exiting recreation areas for the last time on their visit will be interviewed.
Forest users may see U.S. Forest Service employees talking with visitors as they leave the Hoosier National Forest’s developed recreation areas, wilderness areas, and general forest areas such as roads, trailheads, and boat ramps. Visitors may be asked if they are willing to participate in the survey. Participation is encouraged but is entirely voluntary. All interview sites are designated by a “Voluntary Recreation Use Survey Ahead” sign, and the interviewers wear bright orange vests.
Responses to the recreation survey are completely confidential. Names are not recorded anywhere on the survey form. The basic interview takes approximately 8 10 to minutes. The visitor is asked for information regarding the number of people in their group, the length of their visit, satisfaction with facilities and services, and the amount of money spent during the visit. Information will be requested regarding the purpose of the forest visit – sightseeing, swimming, hunting, camping, hiking, or other activities.
When the collected data is analyzed it is available for forest planning and decision-making. It helps forest management decide where best to place limited resources that would most improve visitor satisfaction. Economic expenditure information illustrates the economic impact the forest has on local tourism and employment. In addition, the visitation estimates can be helpful in considering issues related to visitor capacity and staffing.
A few interesting facts that were revealed in the 2014 survey include that 90% of visitors came from local counties. Of those visitors, 69% visited between one and 15 times per year. Some of the most popular activities were walking, developed camping, fishing, viewing natural features and horse riding.
Nancy Myers, the natural resource specialist who oversees the survey process for the Hoosier National Forest, says the survey is completely voluntary and provides a great opportunity for the U.S. Forest Service to connect with people who visit their national forest. Myers says they appreciate visitors taking a few minutes to participate in the interviews.
If you have questions regarding the survey, please call Nancy Myers at the Tell City Ranger District office at 812-547-9241.