Much like the federal government it is a part of, the National Forest Service conducts a census of sorts, but this one is carried out every five years instead of every decade. The program, conducted with the California State University San Marcos, is dubbed the National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) program and will last for a year. To obtain the data necessary for Forest Service officials to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and facilities, polling stations will be placed on low speed National Forest access roads and Recreation Area exits, complete with orange vest-donned surveyors with a list of simple questions. Beginning now, the surveys are scheduled to last until September 2009.
In each survey, the number of people in each party will be evaluated, as well as the number of hours spent at any recreation activity. Some of the questions asked include: “What activities did you participate in?” “How long did you stay?” and “How satisfied are you with the facilities?” National Forest visitors are encouraged to participate in the short questionnaires, but no penalty will be assessed for choosing not to. The information collected will be used by the Forest Service and Congress to study funding needs, and will also be made available to entities studying recreation statistics. The National Forest Service has stated that their ultimate aim is for the surveys to allow them to provide the best customer service possible.