Framework & Guidebooks

Visitor Use Management Framework

The purpose of the framework is to provide cohesive guidance for managing visitor use on federally managed lands and waters. The framework is a planning process for visitor use management and can be incorporated into existing agency planning and decision-making processes. It is applicable to virtually all visitor use management situations and conditions on federally managed lands and waters. The framework is applicable across a wide spectrum of situations that vary in spatial extent and complexity from site-specific decisions to large-scale, comprehensive management plans. It also may be used across multiple, tiered planning efforts.

In the framework guidance, great effort is taken to describe how to flexibly apply the framework. Of particular importance is the notion of a sliding scale of analysis, whereby the investment of time, money, and other resources in analysis is commensurate with the complexity of the situation and the consequences of the decision. The framework elements are:

  • Build the Foundation–Understand why the project is needed, and develop the project approach.
  • Define Visitor Use Management Direction–Describe the conditions to be achieved or maintained and how conditions will be tracked over time.
  • Identify Management Strategies–Identify strategies to manage visitor use to achieve or maintain desired conditions.
  • Implement, Monitor, Evaluate, and Adjust–Implement management strategies and actions, and adjust based on monitoring and evaluation.

Please read the framework:

Indicators, Thresholds, and Monitoring Guidebook

The indicators, thresholds, and monitoring guidebook focuses on determining acceptable levels of impact from visitor use, providing guidance on developing a monitoring strategy, and using information derived from monitoring thresholds to evaluate management actions. Throughout this guidebook, a sliding scale approach is discussed whereby the degree of precision and amount of investment in establishing thresholds and conducting monitoring is appropriate to the consequences of the potential decisions to be made about managing visitor use.

This guidebook is divided into three parts, plus appendixes. Part one provides background information to understand the concept of indicators and thresholds, and how the concept has evolved over time. Part two explains the process of and criteria for selecting indicators and establishing defensible thresholds, including the role of science, public input, and professional expertise. Part three addresses monitoring programs and using information to evaluate management actions to ensure that desired conditions are achieved or maintained.

Materials in the appendixes offer “real world” examples of thresholds, as well as worksheets to help managers work through the process of selecting indicators and establishing thresholds.

* Please note the indicators, thresholds, and monitoring guidebook is still under development. It will be posted here when it is finalized. The anticipated release is 2018.

Visitor Capacity Guidebook

The visitor capacity guidebook provides planners with in-depth information on developing visitor capacity and the management strategies to manage use within capacity. Visitor capacity, a component of visitor use management, is the maximum amounts and types of visitor use that an area can accommodate while achieving and maintaining desired resource conditions and visitor experiences consistent with the purposes for which the area was established. This guidebook discusses the establishment of visitor capacities in greater detail than the framework.

This guidebook is divided into three parts. Part one provides a comprehensive discussion on establishing visitor capacity and the management strategies to manage use within capacity. Part two explains the relationship between the amount of visitor use and associated impacts to resource conditions and visitor experiences. Part three examines six diverse theoretical case studies of the identification of both a visitor capacity and strategies to manage use within capacity.

* Please note the visitor capacity guidebook is still under development. It will be posted here when it is finalized. The anticipated release is 2018.

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Information last updated
07/17/2017 10:50 am