Late last year we encouraged you to participate in a Forest Service (USFS) partner survey conducted by the USFS in partnership with the University of Colorado Denver. The survey aimed to provide insights into the experiences and perceptions of trail volunteers and partners working with the Forest Service. The results are in – the USFS has released an infographic detailing the survey’s findings.
As you may recall, survey results are intended to help inform implementation of the Forest Service’s 10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge (Trail Challenge) which is focused on working in shared stewardship with partners and volunteers to increase our collective capacity to maintain trails and increase trail sustainability.
For purposes of the survey, partners were generally defined as individuals working for organizations that have an agreement with the Forest Service, such as through a challenge cost share agreement, participating agreement, and/or memorandum of understanding. A volunteer is someone working under a volunteer agreement (OF-301) without compensation (although some incidental expenses may be reimbursed).
Brenda Yankoviak, National Trail Program Manager, Forest Service noted in an email, “These survey results have been instrumental in identifying areas we can put more focus to help remove barriers or provide more support. For example, we’ve heard loud and clear through both surveys how critically important it is to have baseline agency staffing levels in place to adequately support partner and volunteer work. We’ve also heard how important it is to have access to technical trainings, and that those opportunities are not consistently available. Consequently, the national trails teams are working to articulate what it takes to run a trail program and clarify baseline staffing levels needed depending on trail program complexity. Likewise, we are beginning to work with partners to identify ways to improve the availability of needed trainings and help raise awareness of what trail trainings are available.”
The USFS also released an infographic on a separate survey to gain insights into the perceptions and experiences of Forest Service trail program employees conducted last summer.