Major Research Initiatives
Effectiveness of Visitor Information Programs in Giant Sequoia National Monument
In summer 2001 Giant Sequoia and Black Bear Campground program attendees and non-attendees (329 usable surveys) were surveyed. The focus was on program effectiveness and use of information services.
Results indicate that the majority of visitors to GSNM use information services. Prior to visiting, most people seek functional information such as directions, entrance fees, weather, or things to do. Their prior sources are primarily family and friends, maps, web sites, or printed sources. On-site, visitors continue to seek functional information, including forest rules and regulations, campsite availability, activities to do, and current fire restrictions.
Use of interpretive information increases on-site, with at least a third of the respondents reporting they sought information about plants and animals in the forest or the history of the forest. Visitor centers were not the most common source of on-site information. Instead these were visitor maps, signs, and ranger station staff. Information used during GSNM visits included both functional and interpretive information, such as directions to specific sites, nature trails, staff available to answer questions, interpretive talks, and exhibits/displays. First time visitors rated staff available to answer questions significantly higher than return visitors. Frequent visitors rated the importance of directions to specific sites significantly higher than infrequent or new visitors.
Data on knowledge gained from the programs showed that those who attended a bear program scored significantly higher than non-attendees. Those who attended Giant Sequoia programs perceived their knowledge of Sequoias to be higher than those who did not attend these programs. However, objective measures of Sequoia knowledge were not significantly higher for those attending campground programs.
Assessments of the importance respondents place on forest management objectives showed the highest averages for protecting Sequoias, providing wildlife habitat, and opportunities to see Sequoias.
The data also suggest that the managers may be able to use information sources, including campground programs, maps, signs, web sites, and nature trails to increase visitor knowledge and appreciation of how forest management can improve the health of Giant Sequoia groves.
Research conducted by: