Monitoring Guidebook

Evaluating Effectiveness of Visitor Use Management

by The Interagency Visitor Use Management Council

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.

Attached document 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.

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