filed under: trail inventory & capacity


Monitoring Guidebook

Evaluating Effectiveness of Visitor Use Management

by The Interagency Visitor Use Management Council


508 final Monitoring Guidebook Edition One IVUMC


Visitor use management is fundamental for maximizing benefits for visitors while protecting resources and high-quality visitor experiences on federally managed lands and waters. Monitoring is an essential part of managing visitor use, as it provides feedback for managers to evaluate the effectiveness of management actions in achieving and maintaining desired conditions. Monitoring is the process of routinely and systematically gathering information or making observations to assess the status of specific resource conditions and visitor experiences.

This monitoring guidebook, in combination with the “Visitor Use Management Framework,” is intended to (1) help managers select a focused set of indicators
and establish triggers, thresholds, and objectives that are relevant, cost
effective, and tied to achieving and maintaining desired conditions; (2) develop
a monitoring strategy to routinely and systematically collect data to assess any changes in conditions over time; and (3) use the data collected to assess whether changes in management actions are needed. Indicators, triggers, thresholds, and objectives should provide useful information to inform decisions about visitor use management, and a monitoring strategy should be designed so that a consistent effort to gather information can be sustained over time. As in the framework, the sliding scale of analysis is discussed throughout this monitoring guidebook to ensure the investment of time, money, and other resources for a project is commensurate with the complexity of the project and the consequences of the decision. This guidebook expands on the framework and is intended to be adaptable to different agencies’ regulations and policies, as well as different project scales or analysis areas.

Published June 2019

About the Author


The Interagency Visitor Use Management Council consists of representatives from each agency: Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Defense U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior Technical advisors from the six agencies - as well as from the U.S. Geologic Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior - also contribute to the activities of the council.

More Articles in this Category

ORV – Social & Management Issues

Off-road vehicles can have a substantial impact on the experience of other non-motorized visitors on trails that are shared or even on adjacent forest or park settings.

The influence of use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss from recreational trails

This research investigated the influence of several use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss on recreational trails and roads at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the U.S. National Park Service.

All-Terrain Vehicle Sustainability Assessments

The sustainable management of ATV use is an expensive proposition requiring careful design, construction, and maintenance of ATV trails.

Assessing the Condition and Sustainability of the Trail System at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

This research assessed the condition and sustainability of the trail system at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a National Park Service unit that partners with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the management of this unit.