The survey was sent to 267 natural resources managers of Corps of Engineers water resources development projects that received at least 100,000 recreation visitors in 1999. These managers were responsible for recreation and natural resources management on 344 of the 456 Corps projects that offer public recreation opportunities. A total of 220 responses to this survey were received between October 2000 and March 2001. The response rate was approximately 82%.
The most frequently identified recreation management concerns were:
- Aging and/or deterioration of recreation facilities (62%)
- Declining ability to deliver quality recreation services because of decreasing funding (38%) and adverse staffing trends (33%)
- Increasing visitation relative to facility capacity and social and natural resource carrying capacity (34)%
- Changing characteristics and needs of visitors (18%).
The most frequently identified natural resource management concerns were:
- Decreasing ability to carry out management tasks because of adverse funding (42%) and staffing (38%) trends.
- Recreation visitor impacts on project natural resources (28%)
- Managing project relationships with natural resource agencies and organizations (21%)
- Water quality (20%)
Managers perceived that recreation visitors were rapidly becoming more ethnically diverse on many projects. Key findings include:
- Ethnic minority visitors are now found on most Corps projects although in numbers that often comprise less than 2% project visitation.
- African American and Native Americans have always been a part of the ethnic mix of visitors on Corps projects.
- Asian and Hispanics have become a part of ethnic mix on many projects only since the 1980's and 1990's, respectively.
- Hispanic visitors are increasing rapidly in number, especially on projects occurring in localities that experienced a large Hispanic population growth in the 1990's.
- The two most commonly cited management issues associated with visitor ethnicity are communications with non-English speaking visitors and changing facility needs of new visitors.
Assessment of roads used by visitors indicated that:
- 87% of managers had roads used by visitors that needed repair.
- 46% needed road repairs to address safety concerns.
- Overall, the condition of projects has deteriorated in the last 10 years on 66% of projects.
In regard to collection of visitor data on Corps projects:
- Project managers generally valued customer satisfaction feedback more than or other kind of visitor information.
- Visitation data from visitor centers and dispersed-use recreation would be nearly as valuable to project managers as visitation data currently collected on developed recreation areas.
- In addition to the recreation activities currently monitored in visitation surveys, managers most wanted to capture the amount of use occurring on recreation trails.