Land & Resources Management

In 2008, Hiawatha National Forest completed its last required, periodic Recreation Site Assessment (then known as Recreation Facility Analysis or RFA). In 2018, we will initiate review our recreation sites again, updating our 5-year plan to incorporate new developments in visitation, budget capacity, and maintenance needs.


The 2008 Recreation Facility Analysis (RFA) was an analysis process, used nationally, to assist Forests in creating a sustainable program that aligns recreation sites with visitors' desires, expectations, and use. RFA helps ensure that recreation sites and facilities provide the appropriate mix of opportunities within the special characteristics of each Forest.

RFA gives recreation resource managers good information. Using this information they are able to develop a Forest level program of work to operate and maintain a financially sustainable and niche-focused recreation sites program that meets National Quality Standards. The initial product of the process is a 5 year proposed Program of Work that will help the forest meet the RFA goals which are:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Provide recreation opportunities consistent with the Forest recreation "niche".
  • Niche is what the forest has to offer in terms of special places, opportunities and potential experiences, overlapped with what people desire and expect in terms of outdoor recreation from public lands.
  • Operate and maintain a financially sustainable recreation sites program to accepted quality standards
  • Eliminate deferred maintenance at recreation sites.
  • Public input continues to be important to the Forest Service and is a critical part of the RFA process. Forests will ensure appropriate public dialogue occurs throughout the process.
  • All forests were scheduled to complete the RFA process by the end of 2008.

Why is this recreation analysis process needed?

The Forest Service is committed to responsibly serving the public by efficiently operating and, when necessary, modifying the services to ensure recreation sites provide the right opportunities in the right places.

As demographics change and new challenges are presented, it is our responsibility to respond and ensure the appropriate recreation services and facilities are available to the public.

RFA is a process that,with the help of the public, communities, and the private sector, will allow us to be fiscally responsible and continue to provide outstanding recreation opportunities to the public.

How the analysis process works:

In general, Forests, with the help of interested people, identify the Forest niche. Forests analyze each recreation site based on criteria such as how well the site supports the recreation needs, desires, and expectations of the public; the role that site plays in the local community; and the site's relationship to the environment. Based on this analysis, the forest develops a 5 year proposed Program of Work to meet the goals of the RFA process. The public is invited to help implement and improve key tasks in the proposed Program of Work while meeting those goals.

Visitor satisfaction is the bottom line. Implementing the results of the RFA will result in a higher quality and more efficiently managed recreation sites program where facilities support the recreation niche; meet the needs, desires, and expectations of constituents and visitors; and are operated and maintained within the funding and resources of each Forest.

How was the public involved?

We welcome you to contact us if you are interested in any of these tasks. We are always seeking committed partners and volunteers.  In addition, continued public participation efforts will occur for any ground disturbing activity or any fee change. This 2008 story describes how the restults of the process are used.

News Release: Hiawatha’s Recreation Program Anticipates Change
April 9, 2008 
Escanaba, MI – The Hiawatha National Forest has released its “Proposed Program of Work,” which provides an inventory and ranking of the Forest’s developed recreation facilities and suggests a five-year management strategy for those sites.

The Hiawatha’s Proposed Program of Work is part of an agency-wide Recreation Facility Analysis project aimed at achieving four overall goals:

  • Operate and maintain sites to standard with limits of available funding.
  • Reduce deferred maintenance backlog by 20% over the five-year life of the Program of Work.
  • Focus available resources on sites which best represent the Forest’s Recreation Program Niche.
  • Maintain and enhance customer satisfaction with available sites.
  • “Depending on how well a particular facility helps us meet these objectives,” explains Forest Supervisor Tom Schmidt, “we selected from a range of management options such as increased services, conversion to another use, change in fees, or decommission.”

The Proposed Program of Work serves as a planning document that will help the Forest implement the 2006 Hiawatha National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. Site specific decisions to implement components of the Program of Work will be addressed through the National Environmental Policy Act as appropriate, so public involvement will be solicited at that time.

“The Proposed Program of Work is another tool that helps us provide the best developed recreation opportunities possible within the constraints of a tight budget,” Schmidt added.

For more information about the Recreation Facility Analysis process and the Hiawatha’s Proposed Program of Work, visit our website If you have questions or comments about the Hiawatha’s Proposed Program of Work or about Recreation Facility Analysis in general, please contact Ted Schiltz, Recreation Program Manager, 906-789-3346 or

Please contact us if you would like to discuss anything in the 5-year Proposed Program of Work.

What's the Staring Point?
The Hiawatha National Forest has analyzed developed recreation sites through a process called "Recreation Facility Analysis."   The foundation of any effort for improvement is knowing how well we are doing -- establishing a baseline.  Recreation Facility Analysis is the first nationally consistent analytical process that allows us to know what running a recreation site costs, the relative importance of that site, and its condition. 

Using this analysis, the Forest has built a "5-year Proposed Program of Work.“  The Proposed Program of Work is a list of tasks that the Forest will try to accomplish or further explore over the next 5 years.

We want to provide healthy, safe, and well-maintained recreation opportunities that are important to local communities and visitors to our area. Recreation Facility Analysis helps us evaluate developed recreation sites to meet the overall goals of:

  • Focus resources on the most appropriate recreation opportunities to meet changing public desires and demands.
  • Maintain or enhance visitor satisfaction with the sites and services provided.
  • Meet quality health and safety standards at all developed recreation sites.
  • Be financially sustainable.
  • Be environmentally sound.
  • Maintain community sustainability.
  • The value of recreation is so great and the benefits to communities, families and individuals so vital that we must continue to do all we can to improve access and availability of quality outdoor recreation for everyone.

Many of our facilities were built 30-50 years ago. Some have reached the end of their useful life. Other facilities receive little or no use, and no longer serve the demand that existed in years past. The fundamental premise of the proposed program of work is to create an inventory which is sustainable and flexible enough to be annually adapted to any changes in demand, available resources, and opportunities. Therefore, the Proposed Program of Work can  be updated should we have a need to re-evaluate our recreation program. 

Through the 2006 Recreation Facility Analysis process, the Forest prepared a "Draft 5-year Proposed Program of Work" outlining the proposed management of 96 developed recreation sites, including campgrounds, trailheads, and cabin rentals. These are tasks that the Hiawatha National Forest has identified for the next 5 years.  As is always the case, they may or may not be completed depending on factors such as workload, partnerships and funding.

This proposal could reduce annual maintenance costs by 54 percent by implementing options such as repairing some facilities scheduled for replacement, and changing the size of some campgrounds.

The Hiawatha National Forest also had a current backlog maintenance bill of $1,012,232.  This proposal could also reduce that to by 35 percent by the year 2012.

Our analysis has shown that changing the prices charged at some recreation sites is another essential component to maintaining and improving our recreation facilities and services. However, we will change prices at Forest Service managed sites only after seeking public input and receiving a recommendation from the Eastern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee. 

Synopsis of Proposed Tasks:

In general the 5-year Proposed Program of Work has the following tasks:

  • No change to 14 sites
  • Repair facilities at 25 sites
  • Improve facilities at 16 sites
  • Change season of use at 0 sites
  • Add or increase fees at 9 sites
  • Remove some or all facilities at 26 sites
  • Close 0 sites
  • Proposed tasks for all developed recreation sites are provided for your review and comment:

Table of Tasks (84 KB PDF)
5-year Proposed Program of Work (1,830 KB PDF)

We welcome your comments and suggestions on our 5-year Proposed Program of Work.


Transportation Analysis Process Subpart A: The Road Study

Brown sign that says Road Study Ahead

In its "Subpart A" road study, the U.S. Forest Service studied the risks and benefits for visitors and the environment associated with the road system on the Hiawatha National Forest. Released in 2016, the study was part of the implementation of the 2005 Travel Management Rule, 36 CFR 212. The road study identified a road system that provides access for the public and forest management activities, minimizes environmental impacts, and can be maintained within budget constraints.  To learn more about TAP, click on the blue story title above this text.