WVU Students To Conduct Vistor Surveys on National Forests

Through a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, West Virginia University will conduct voluntary surveys of visitors recreating on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2015 WVU students, and employees will host survey stations at developed recreation areas, trailheads, and along Forest Service roads. People who agree to participate in the survey will not be asked their names, and all responses are confidential. The basic interview lasts about eight minutes, and every other visitor is asked additional questions related either to economics or satisfaction, which may take an additional five minutes.

The information gained from the survey will aid the Forest Service in analyzing recreation needs and trends and assist state and local governments with tourism strategies and planning. In addition, the survey will provide National Forest managers, partners, and Congress with an estimate of how many people recreate on federal lands and what activities they enjoy while there. Other important information includes how satisfied people are with their visit to the national forest and the economic benefits on the local economy. The data gathered by this program is also used, along with other factors, in determining how funds for recreation management are allocated to the national forests.

Although the survey is entirely voluntary, the Forest Service hopes as many people as possible will stop to answer survey questions. It is important that the Forest Service gather information from both the local and out-of-area national forest users so that all types of visitors are accurately represented in the study. There are about 300 survey dates scheduled beginning October 1 and continuing through September 30, 2016.

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