Every five years the U.S. Forest Service conducts visitor use surveys.
It looks for things like where you’re visiting, how many people are with you, how long is your visit, and how many sites you plan to visit.
Tim Vetter is the Recreation, Wilderness and Lands Program Manager on the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest. He says the information collected helps shape the future of the forest.
“Since we do this every five years, you start to develop trends. You see certain uses growing in popularity and you see others that might have been more of a historical use change over time. It is quite valuable in terms of seeing the trends in visitation and desired uses and that really drives where we want to focus our resources as well,” said Vetter.
Vetter said it also shows the impact on surrounding communities.
“We’re able to see how much visitation to the Forest contributes to local economies, the tourism base, where those folks are coming from, how much money they’re spending,” said Vetter. “A lot of people come to the forest that aren’t necessarily staying on the forest. So it helps paint a better picture of how the use of the forest really helps the communities it serves.”
The Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest has selected 193 different sites where interviewees will be at throughout the year.
If you happen to visit a site on the day of the survey, you may be asked to participate.
“A lot of prework went into which sites we wanted to interview people at, it’s not necessarily at a developed recreation site. It might be on a road leaving a popular are or leading to a popular area on the forest where people hunt or fish,” said Vetter. “While they’re voluntary we really hope that people engage in these surveys because they do provide very valuable information that really do drive where we focus our resources.”
A person with the U.S. Forest Service will ask you a series of questions about your visit and input them into a tablet. Because of COVID interviewees and survey participants must practice social distance or wear face coverings.