The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is getting a lot brighter beginning October. Visitors should expect to see forest and contract employees wearing bright orange vests out on the lands.
These workers will be out on the CTNF, rain or shine, conducting visitor information surveys, that will be useful for the CNTF to learn how to better serve the public.
“The last survey done showed that we had about just 1.5 million visitors a year to the forest itself and the use definitely changes depending on where you’re at, but we get it all,” said CTNF public affairs officer, Sarah Wheeler.
Every five years, the CTNF conducts a visitor information survey to determine how many people recreate on the national forest, what activities they engage in, and how satisfied they are with their visit.
“They allow us to extrapolate some data to understand what people want to see on the forest and how they’re using us and their visitation numbers,” said Wheeler.
That information can help sow the seeds of change.
“The survey allows us to look at different uses that we haven’t seen the previous years,” said Wheeler.
Common uses being, hiking, hunting, backcountry skiing, fishing, and riding ATV’s.
“For example, as we see an increase in motor vehicle use in some areas, snowmobiling, people are able to access areas that they weren’t able to access in the past because technology has advanced in a manner that now the snowmobile can actually get in those locations. Those are all factors that we learn as we do this survey every five years,” said Wheeler.
Taking the survey is completely voluntary and confidential, and although it may delay your planned activities by a few minutes, it could make your future activities in the forest that much more enjoyable.
“I would urge people to stop if they have the opportunity at one of these survey sites, so they can provide that information because it is valid. It definitely gets used for our planning purposes and it not only helps The Forest plan but the local economies. If they know how people are accessing their public lands, which we are so lucky to live in an area that has so much, they can tailor their businesses to meet those needs as well,” said Wheeler.
The survey will take place beginning this October until September 30th, 2020.
Not everyone will have the opportunity to take the survey and give feedback, so the CTNF recommends that if you have any suggestions on how to improve the forest, to call their office or leave a comment on their website.