BLACKSMITH FORK – Utah State University students are implementing a survey in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest for the National Visitor Use Monitoring. The surveys will be completed in developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service roads.
Andrea Jacobs, a Utah State University graduate and master’s degree candidate, was in Blacksmith Fork Canyon at Left Hand Fork Thursday taking exit polls as part of the National Visitor Use Monitoring project.
“Left Hand Fork is considered a low use site,” she said. “We usually see from zero to 20 people. High use sites may have more than 100 people go through a survey site.”
She had a big sign alerting visitors at Left Hand Fork to stop and take the survey.
The information from the survey provides the Forest Service managers with an estimate of visitors that recreate in the National Forest, their recreation activities and level of satisfaction. The information gathered will be used for Forest and community planning.
“There are a number of people that don’t stop, but the ones that do are really nice and are willing to fill out a survey,” Jacobs said. “We have not had a lot of negative feedback from people taking the survey; most people are happy to fill it out.”
The survey gathers information from visitors and is voluntary. Questions asked include the purpose of the visit, how often do they are visit the forest and how were the lodging facilities, campgrounds or hotels. The Forest Service wants to know where people recreate in the forest, how many people traveled together, the length of stay and sites visited.
Chase Lamborn, a research associate/Ph.D. student in the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, said the information has two purposes.
“The National Visitor Monitoring Program was instituted about 20 years ago with two goals,” he said. “The information will help Congress decide the allocation of funds for the Forest Service.”
First it monitors the volume of recreation and number of visitors who spend time in the National Forests and Grasslands.
The second is to produce more detailed visitor information concerning duration of visits, demographics of those using the forest, activity participation and satisfaction of the National Forest Service properties.
“Using those factors, Congress can evaluate and determine how to allocate funding for the Forest Service,” he added. “The overall response rate has been positive for 96 percent of those surveyed.”
With the deer hunt going on there may be more visitors then normal in the Blacksmith Fork Canyon area.
Money spent on recreation by visitors to the forests contributes to the economic health of communities surrounding the forests, a Forest Service report said.