Visitor use management is the proactive and adaptive process for managing characteristics of visitor use and the natural and managerial setting using a variety of strategies and tools to achieve and maintain desired resource conditions and visitor experiences.
Managers of federal lands and waters strive to maximize benefits for visitors while achieving and maintaining desired resource conditions and visitor experiences. Managing visitor access and use for recreational benefits and resource protection is inherently complex. It requires that managers analyze not only the number of visitors but also where they go, what they do, their impacts on resources and visitor experiences, and the underlying causes of those impacts. Managers must acknowledge the dynamic nature of visitor use, the vulnerabilities of natural and cultural resources, and the need to be responsive to changing conditions. Proactively planning for visitor use maximizes the ability of agencies to encourage access and protect resources and values. Further, having a professional approach and clear and consistent guidance is important for effective and efficient management of federal lands and waters.