OREGON COUNTY -- Mark Twain National Forest will be part of the U.S. Forest Services National Visitor Use Monitoring program through September.
Oregon County has more forest service land than any other county in the state with just over 105,000 acres or about one-fifth of the total 792 square miles in the county.
According to Theresa Wooldridge with the Mark Twain National Forest Regional Office in Doniphan, hikers, hunters, bicyclists, campers and canoeists and any other visitors to the trials in the forest, may see people wearing bright orange vests near a sign that says, "Traffic Survey Ahead." These will be forest service employees, contractors and partners waiting to interview visitors about their visit to the forest.
Wooldridge said the survey is voluntary.
She said this is an on-going survey that has been conducted once in every National Forest in the country. Mark Twain visitors were last surveyed in 2000.
"The information is useful for local forest planning, the state's plans, Congress and also for local tourism planning," she said.
"The information collected will tell us locally how many visitors come to the Mark Twain National Forest, how long they stay, where they come from, what activities they participate in, how much money they spend in local communities and how satisfied they are with the quality of facilities and services provided," said Nancy Feakes who serves as the forest recreational manager.
Feakes said the interview gathers basic information. All responses are completely confidential and a person's name is never asked during the interview.
"The basic interview lasts eight to 10 minutes. Two or three visitors may be asked a few additional questions which may take up to five minutes more," she said.
Feakes said it is important for the forest service to keep in touch with local residents that use the forest service as well as out-of-area visitors so all types of visitors are represented in the study.