Title: The use of recreation planning tools in U.S. Forest Service NEPA assessments
Author: Cerveny, Lee K.; Blahna, Dale J.; Stern, Marc J.; Mortimer, Michael J.; Predmore, S. Andrew; Freeman, James.
Source: Environmental Management. 48: 644-657
Description: U.S. Forest Service managers are required to incorporate social and biophysical science information in planning and environmental analysis. The use of science is mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Forest Management Act, and U.S. Forest Service planning rules. Despite the agency's emphasis on "science-based" decisionmaking, little is known about how science is actually used in recreation planning and management. This study investigated the perceptions of Forest Service interdisciplinary team leaders for 106 NEPA projects dealing with recreation and travel management between 2005 and 2008. Our survey data show how managers rate the importance of social and biophysical science compared to other potential "success factors" in NEPA assessments. We also explore how team leaders value and use multidisciplinary tools for recreation-related assessments. Results suggest that managers employ a variety of recreation planning tools in NEPA projects, but there appears to be no common understanding or approach for how or when these tools are incorporated. The Recreation Opportunity Spectrum was the most frequently used planning tool, but the Visitor Experience and Resource Protection framework was the most consistently valued tool by those who used it. We recommend further evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each planning tool and future development of procedures to select appropriate planning tools for use in recreation-related NEPA assessments.
Keywords: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), US Forest Service, Recreation planning, travel management
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Cerveny, Lee K.; Blahna, Dale J.; Stern, Marc J.; Mortimer, Michael J.; Predmore, S. Andrew; Freeman, James. 2011. The use of recreation planning tools in U.S. Forest Service NEPA assessments. Environmental Management. 48: 644-657.