Recreation Facility Analysis (RFA)
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have always placed a high priority on providing a variety of quality recreation opportunities for our visitors to enjoy. Over the years the Forests have worked to maintain our facilities and develop new ones, but there is still more to do. In 2007 the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests completed a Recreation Facility Analysis for developed recreation sites. This was a national effort to gather data about recreation facilities and match the recreation provided more closely with the expectations of the public.
During this planning process each forest collected data about its developed recreation sites, which included all sites that contained constructed features such as toilets, tables, campfire rings and signs. Many of these developed recreation facilities were built 30+ years ago and the inventory identified areas where there was a need for action. Visitor preferences and demographics were also reviewed and the public provided input concerning their needs and expectations. Through this analysis process it was determined that some sites no longer served projected demand, some facilities were in poor shape and some did not meet visitor’s expectations. The results of the analysis process were compiled into a Program of Work that was used to direct Forest Service management of recreation sites for the subsequent five years.
It is now the end of the five year planning period. Since the implementation of the Program of Work many of the objectives have been met; many sites have been improved, in some sites the focus of the activities have changed and in a few sites there has been a reduction in services – mostly in areas where the emphasis is dispersed recreation. In addition to this, there have been major changes in the management of the two National Forests. Currently the forests are working through an effort to combine the management of the two forests. The forests are now beginning the process to update the Program of Work. This effort will provide updated information about condition of our facilities, will identify any changes in needs or demographics of our users, and will analyze the current financial condition given drastic reductions in budgets.
What Is the Recreation Facility Analysis (RFA)?
RFA is an analysis tool developed nationally to help forests align their developed recreation sites with the unique characteristics of the forest, projected recreation demand, visitor expectations, and revenue. National forests across the country are undertaking this process. RFA is driven by three strategic goals:
Provide recreation opportunities best suited for the national forest;
Operate and maintain recreation sites to meet national quality standards;
Eliminate/reduce recreation site deferred maintenance.
A seven-step process is used to evaluate and prioritize sites for action. The results are contained in a proposed 5-year program of work. Public feedback is sought to ensure that these actions are sound and responsive to visitor needs. Annually, phases of the program of work are implemented; additional public participation is conducted at that time.
The RFA process involves seven steps, each bringing the forest’s developed recreation sites in closer alignment with the forest’s unique characteristics, projected recreation demand, visitor expectations and revenue.
STEP 1: Prepare Site Inventory & Financial Data
Inventory of recreation sites has been updated, along with estimates of the costs for operation and maintenance and deferred maintenance for each recreation site.
STEP 2: Identify Combined Forest Recreation Program Niche
The recreation “niche” statements from the 2007 effort have been combined to reflect the new combined forest recreation program. The draft combined “niche” is attached below. See Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Recreation Niche document.
STEP 3: Identify Operational Efficiencies
Recreation sites are examined to determine if efficiencies can be undertaken to further reduce site expenditures and eliminate deferred maintenance while maintaining recreation opportunities. A proposed set of management options is developed for each site to reduce costs or provide services in other ways.
STEP 4: Rank Recreation Sites
Recreation sites are rated through the use of a series of questions involving the sites’ conformance with the forest recreation program niche; their financial and operational efficiency; their effects on environmental sustainability; and their effects on community stability. Workshop participants develop a proposed ranking of sites.
STEP 5: Propose 5-year Program of Work to Stakeholders
The proposed 5-year program of work for recreation sites is prepared based upon the analysis completed in the previous four steps. Broader discussions with stakeholders are sought to explore alternative ways of operating sites or building new partnerships. Draft plan to public for review in early June.
STEP 6: Finalize 5-year Proposed Program of Work
The 5-year program of work for recreation sites is refined, based upon the broader discussions with stakeholders. See 2014 RFA Program of Work document. PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD ENDS MARCH 14, 2014.
STEP 7: Implementation
Annually, site-specific steps are proposed to implement the 5-year program of work for recreation sites. Prior to implementation of individual projects, National Environmental Policy Act and other agency coordination requirements are completed.
We recognize that many of the special places on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are important to you and we welcome your comments and suggestions during this process. Your participation is important to ensure that the results of the RFA process meet overall visitor needs and offer the best recreation opportunities in the right places.