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New Survey Shows Park Visitors Enjoy Quiet, Wildlife and Scenery


    A little-publicized, but powerful, survey came to my attention the other day, one that you could say runs counter to the thinking going on in the upper echelons of the National Park Service and the Department of Interior.
   Oia_copy_1 Conducted for the Outdoor Industry Association, it shows that more than two-thirds of those surveyed want a quiet, secluded national park visit, one without a corporate presence. Fewer than a third of those contacted expressed an interest in renting non-motorized equipment, such as bikes, and fewer than 14 percent want to rent motorized equipment, such as snowmobiles and ATVs.

    OIA had the survey conducted in advance of a visit by its president, Frank Hugelmeyer, to a gathering of national park superintendents from the Western half of the country. To say the least, it gave him some ammunition in stating his organization's opposition to the revisions proposed for the Park Service's Management Policies.
    "The results of this survey reaffirm Outdoor Industry Association's position that active Americans overwhelmingly want the NPS to continue its current mission of conservation of our nation's natural treasures," says Hugelmeyer. "The proposed rewrite is not only unnecessary, but runs completely against the desires of Americans visiting national parks."
    You can find an overview of the survey results here. What's particularly interesting is that two out of three of those surveyed want the Park Service to focus more on protecting resources than for making way for off-road vehicles and the building of more facilities.
    The survey produced some other interesting results. For instance, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed have visited a national park within the past two years, and 62.3 percent plan to visit a national park within the next two years.
    Some other gems:
        * 71.6 percent want well-maintained trails
        * 42.2 percent want to see trailside exhibits
        * 32.1 percent want ranger-led hikes
        * 96.3 percent want to see beautiful scenery
        * 76.1 percent want to be able to spot wildlife
        * 45.9 percent strongly agree, and another 18.3 percent agree, that the Park Service should place a higher importance on human-powered activities over motorized activities

    OIA, by the way, is a national organization  "whose mission is to ensure the growth and success of the outdoor industry." Its members include manufacturers, distributors and retailers of outdoor goods and services.



I'm not at all surprised at the survey's findings. People often tell me (I'm the outdoors columnist for a daily newspaper in PA) that solitude and quietness are chief among their reasons for visiting state parks in our vicinity. The appreciation of quietness -- of being able to listen to the wind, not human-caused racket -- is a very much underappreciated and un-fought-for resource.

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