Recreation Facility Analysis


The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area has always placed a high priority on providing high quality recreation opportunities for the many people who visit the Columbia River Gorge. Over the years the Forest Service has strived to maintain and build new facilities to meet visitor demands and expectations, however there is still more work to do.

Many of the National Scenic Area’s developed recreation sites were built 30-70 years ago. Since then, visitor preferences and demographics have changed. Some sites no longer serve projected recreation demand and do not meet visitors' expectations. To address these changed conditions and national direction, the National Scenic Area is implementing the Recreation Facility Analysis (RFA) process for developed recreation sites. The outcome of RFA will be a list of prioritized actions to more effectively manage these recreation sites.

What is RFA?

RFA is an analysis tool 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 has three strategic goals:

1. Provide recreation opportunities best suited for the national forest;
2. Operate and maintain recreation sites to meet national quality standards;
3. Eliminate or reduce recreation site deferred maintenance.

A seven-step process is used to evaluate and prioritize sites for action. The outcome will be documented in a proposed 5-year program of work. Public involvement is vital to ensure that these actions are responsive to visitor needs. Annually, phases of the program will be implemented; additional public involvement will be sought at those times.

Seven Step Process

The RFA process involves seven steps, collectively bringing the forest's developed recreation sites in alignment with the forest's unique characteristics, projected recreation demand, visitor expectations and revenue.

STEP 1: Prepare Site Inventory & Financial Data
The inventory of recreation sites is updated, along with estimates of the costs for operation, maintenance, and deferred maintenance for each recreation site. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area staff completed this step in January of 2007.

STEP 2: Identify Unit Recreation Program Niche
Recreation visitor use, market data, and public input are examined to determine the focus of the forest's recreation program. This includes a map of the forest's recreation settings and a characterization of the forest's unique recreation “niche.”


Recreation Settings Map

STEP 3: Identify Operational Efficiencies
Recreation sites are examined to determine if operational changes could further reduce costs and eliminate deferred maintenance while maintaining recreation opportunities. A set of possible management actions is developed for each site to reduce costs or provide essential services in other ways.

STEP 4: Rank Recreation Sites
Recreation sites are evaluated against (1) their conformance with the forest recreation niche, (2) their financial and operational efficiency, (3) their effects on environmental sustainability, and (4) their effects on community stability.

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.

Proposed 5 year Program of Work

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.

Final 5 year Program of Work

STEP 7: Implementation
Annually, site-specific steps are proposed to implement the 5-year program of work. Prior to implementation of individual projects, National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory requirements are completed.

Public Participation

We welcome your comments and suggestions during this process. Your participation is important to ensure that the results of the RFA process meet visitor expectations by offering quality recreation opportunities in places important to people. National Scenic Area recreation managers invite you to work with them to identify how to best manage these sites and to constructively respond to the proposed program of work.