Recreation: Changing Research Patterns
Major Research Initiatives
Day Use of National Forest Series: The Inyo National Forest, 2003
It is important to examine use of recreation sites and get visitor points of view about those sites. Of particular importance are day use sites, which receive a large amount of use but little research emphasis. The following reports results from a day use visitor contact study conducted on the Inyo National Forest in summer 2003. The survey is a replication of the day use studies conducted on National Forests in southern California from 1992-94, 2000-02. The purpose was to provide information to Inyo National Forest resource managers based on day use visitor opinions. The study sites were on the White Mountain and Mount Whitney Ranger Districts. Though the report refers to the Inyo National Forest, the results are applicable to those two Ranger Districts. Topics addressed included visitor characteristics, visitation patterns, activity patterns, interpretation, communication and information patterns, importance of site attributes and other visitor perceptions. We also sought to conduct comparisons among specific subgroups (e.g., age, education).
Day use sites were randomly selected for inclusion in the study. Dates of data collection were randomly selected from various days during the week throughout the summer months. Data were collected from 360 recreationists.
Results from the 2003 Day Use survey were presented in this report with some sub-group comparisons. Overall results indicate Inyo National Forest visitors were typically white, were U.S.-born, and average 43 years of age with 15 years of education. Most Inyo National Forest day use visitors were recreating with family and friends, visited for more than an hour, were repeat visitors, and planned to return to sites on the Inyo National Forest in the next 12 months. While on the Forest the typical visitor was fishing, day hiking, camping, picnicking/barbecuing, sightseeing, or watching wildlife. Day use visitors had great interest in informational talks given by Inyo National Forest employees, especially on the topics of local mountain history and animals and their habitats. Most heard about the Inyo National Forest from word-of mouth resources (typically family and friends). Preferred sources of on-site information included brochures, notes on bulletin boards, signs along the road and rangers stopping by for a visit. Day use visitors wanted more information about the best times to visit the area to avoid crowds, camping in the area, hiking in the area, fishing in the area, location of day hike trails and things to see and do. Preferred site attributes included trash containers, water faucets, parking areas, picnic tables, fire pits/rings and law enforcement and patrols. They also preferred somewhat challenging trails that take a few hours or about an hour to hike. Day use visitors were bothered by problems such as litter on roads, drawing and graffiti on natural and man-made structures, litter at picnic sites, and the carving of names, initials or messages on trees. Most day use visitors had a great recreation experience, want to return again, planned to tell other people about their trip, felt the trip was well worth the money spent to take it.
Managers of the two Ranger Districts studied on the Inyo National Forest can use the results of this report in several ways. First the demographics suggest a mostly white clientele, suggesting a focus on English language communications. Of course, multiple languages in communications will enhance outreach to those groups who may be under-represented at day use sites. Development preferences suggest there are particular facilities and amenities (such as trash cans, water faucets, parking areas, picnic tables and fire pits/rings) that the visitors desire, and a focus on these will be beneficial to the Forest and the visitors. There are many opportunities to communicate with forest visitors on-site ranging from ranger-led activities to brochures with information on area sites and features. Preferred outlets on-site were brochures, notes on bulletin boards, signs along the road and rangers who stop by for a visit. Topics of interest included animals and their habitats, local mountain history, the best times to visit the area to avoid crowds, camping in the area, hiking in the area, fishing in the area and more. Attention to issues that bother recreation day use visitors will further enhance their visits to the Inyo National Forest; visitors were especially concerned about litter and graffiti.
Publications and Products related to this subject:
Chavez, D.J.; Olson, D.D.; Madrid, K. 2003. Day use of National Forest series: The Inyo National Forest, 2003. Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 34 p.
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