US Forest Service begins surveys on visitor use

Through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service, West Virginia University (WVU) employees will conduct voluntary surveys of visitors recreating on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.   Visitors on developed recreation areas and trailheads, and along Forest Service roads who agree to participate in the National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey will not be identified by name and all responses are confidential. The basic interview lasts about eight minutes, and every other visitor is asked additional questions related either to economics or satisfaction, which may take an additional five minutes.

The Forest Service will use the information from the survey to analyze recreation needs and trends and to assist state and local governments with tourism strategies and planning. In addition, the survey will provide national forest managers, partners and Congress with an estimate of how many people recreate on federal lands and what activities they enjoy while there. Other important information include how satisfied people are with their visit to the national forests and the economic benefits to the local economy.

Forest Supervisor Joby Timm encourages the public to take a few minutes to participate in the survey. “The more we know about our visitors and their specific interests and satisfaction level, the better we can manage national forest lands to meet their desires. Even if you answered the survey questions once already, please stop again if you see a survey in progress at another location or on another day.  Determining the number of repeat visitors engaging in various recreational pursuits versus first-time visitors is very useful information.”

It’s important that the Forest Service gather information from individuals who come both locally and from further afield to visit the national forests in order to accurately represent all forest users in the study. This will be the fifth time researchers have surveyed visitors on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests for the National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey and the second time that the Forests and West Virginia University have partnered for this effort. Prior surveys were conducted in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. The National Visitor Use Monitoring surveys are conducted once every five years on each national forest in the country so that in any given year, approximately 20% of the national forests are conducting these surveys. This ongoing effort updates information previously gathered to examine recreation trends over time.

For additional information about the National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey, visit or email Ginny Williams, Forest NVUM Coordinator, at


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Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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