The University of Alabama and USDA Forest Service Partner to Conduct Visitor Use Surveys Throughout Alabama's National Forests

Release Date: Sep 13, 2018

(Montgomery, AL)  September 13, 2018 – The USDA Forest Service in partnership with the University of Alabama will be conducting a National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) survey across the National Forests in Alabama beginning October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.

Visitors may see more Forest Service and contracted University of Alabama employees working in developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service roads.  Surveyors will be wearing bright orange vests and be near signs that say “Survey Ahead”.   Assistance from the public is needed; so please take time to be interviewed.  Well trained interviewers want to know about national forest visits.  All information provided during the interview is confidential and the survey is voluntary.

The on-going national forest survey has already been conducted once on every national forest in the country. The Forest Service is now returning 5 years later to update the information previously gathered as well as to look at recreation trends over time. The information is useful for forest planning and even local community tourism planning. It provides national forest managers with an estimate of how many people actually recreate on federal lands and what activities they engage in while there. Other important information needed includes how satisfied people were with their visit and the economic impact of recreation visits on the local economy.

The survey will gather basic visitor information. All responses are totally confidential, in fact a person’s name is never written anywhere on the survey. The basic interview lasts about 8 minutes.

Sample visitor questions include: where they recreated on the Forest, how many people they traveled with, how long they were on the Forest, what other recreation sites they visited while on the Forest and how satisfied they were with the facilities and services provided. About a third of the visitors will be asked to complete a confidential survey on recreation spending during their trip.

Information collected in the national study will be used in local Forest planning, at the state planning level, and even by Congress.  Managers can better provide service when they know visitor needs and satisfactions.

All visitors will need to be represented in the study.  It’s important for surveyors to talk with local people using the forest as well as out-of-town visitors. Even if you answered the survey questions once already, surveyors would like to talk to visitors about each of their national forest visits.  The public’s involvement in this study will be greatly appreciated. For additional information about this program you can visit