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«Recreation Plan Recreation Grants Branch State Parks Division 4200 Smith School Road • Austin, Texas 78744 © 2012 TPWD. PWD ...»

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The State Park On-site Visitor Survey was a survey conducted from 2002-2007 at 67 state parks to gain a system-wide understanding of park visitors in order to help plan for statewide and regional marketing strategies. The survey collected site-specific and statewide information on demographics, visitation patterns, and visitor satisfaction. The survey also highlighted specific outdoor recreation facilities and services needed at the parks. The research resulted in the development of strategies and actions to increase attendance, revenue, and customer satisfaction at state parks. Some of the key research findings and resulting actions are summarized below.

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o Increased promotion of existing family-oriented programs including o Texas Outdoor Family program,

Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand

o Free Fishing in state parks, and o Go Fish.

• Emphasize free entry for children under 13 in marketing materials and website.

• Develop “Family Fun” campaign for both general market and Hispanics

• Partner with businesses to implement family-oriented programs The research found the TPWD website to be one of the most important communication tools for motivating visitors to come to state parks. Aside from word of mouth and learning about the park from a previous visit, the TPWD website was the third most common source of influence for visiting parks. When looking at only first time visitors, the website was even more important as it was the second most common source of information, followed by the State Park Guide.

This research finding solidified the need to launch a new state park website, www.texasstateparks.org, and promote the new features and functionality in attempt to encourage more Texans to learn about parks online. The website is being implemented

in phases, and strategies identified to improve the website include:

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The on-site survey research found that trails are very important to park visitors. Trails were found to be the most often used amenity at state parks for both day and overnight users. Day visitors also indicated that hiking was their most important “top of mind” reason for visiting state parks. Trail maintenance and the need for new trails were identified by day users as the most desired park improvement.

The resulting action based on this research finding is the need to develop strategies for

promoting hiking at parks, including the need to:

o Improve trail maps/signage (incorporate GPS coordinates) o Improve trail-related information on website, including more descriptive content and user-generated comments about trails Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan

• Offer more guided/interpretive walk/tours, possible video camp of hikes, and mobile app tours

• Develop hiking programs at parks (geocaching, treasure hunts, walking/trail clubs)

• Consider targeted advertising in magazines (Backpacker, Outside) The survey evaluated customer satisfaction at state parks. The overwhelming majority (94%) of park visitors are very satisfied or satisfied with their park visit. However, only two-thirds are “very satisfied,” so there is room for improvement. The survey found that the degree of satisfaction has an important impact on repeat visits to the park, as 92% of “very satisfied” visitors - compared to only 80% of “satisfied” visitors - are likely to return to the park. Only 25% of “somewhat satisfied” or “dissatisfied” visitors intended to return. This indicates how important it is to focus on customer satisfaction efforts and to strive towards improving the number of “very satisfied” visitors.

The research related to customer satisfaction helped define the need to develop an action plan for measuring customer satisfaction on an ongoing basis and create a system for continually collecting customer feedback. This information helps to assess reasons for dissatisfaction so that TPWD may dedicate resources to analyze and act on customer feedback in order to consistently improve visitor experiences in state parks.

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Recreation Provider Survey Responses The recreation providers from across the state were invited by email or postcard to participate in the survey. Complete survey results are located in Appendix E. By analyzing the results from the 253 responding recreation providers, we were able to gain some insight into the issues they face.

Additionally, by comparing the differing needs and barriers facing recreation providers versus citizens, we were able to establish some of the challenges that create a gap in service. All of the recreation provider respondents are identified by type of governmental entity in Figure 5.6, and at 68%, city officials were the primary respondents in the survey.

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Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan The location of all respondents by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is identified in Table 5.9, based on the reported zip code. The respondents from the Dallas and Fort Worth-Arlington area represent a combined total of 33% of the recreation provider survey respondents.

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Providers were also asked if they had a system-wide master plan/comprehensive plan with 86% responding YES. For the YES respondents, they were asked to rate the usefulness of the local planning document, with overwhelmingly positive results. Table 5.10 details the responses to this question.

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Under the category of land protection, preserving land for future development is nearly half of the overall challenge facing recreation providers, with the other four categories closely ranked.

©TPWD: Devils River Ranch

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Meeting public needs was ranked as the lowest priority; however, there are still a number of difficulties identified. The results of the top 10 responses showed a closer clustering in problems associated with meeting public needs. Table 5.13 details the responses.

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Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand

Recreation providers were asked to rate the importance of the types of park needs that they are currently facing in their park system. Trail linkages within their own park system rated significantly higher in importance than the next category of trail linkages with other jurisdictions (Figure 5.8).

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0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% 90.0% The City of Grapevine has utilized its many resources to develop more than twenty-two (22) miles of hard-surface trails and four (4) miles of soft-surface trails. Grapevine will eventually have approximately 34 miles of trails within its city limits.

Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan As in numerous other agency plans, including previous SCORP submissions, trails still rank highest as the top facilities needed now. Trails account for three of the five top needs.

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The final question asked recreation providers to rate the barriers they perceive that limit visitors from going to their parks. The top 10 responses are ranked in Table 5.15.

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Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand


Even with the limitations of the on-line public input survey, we were able to garner 3,726 responses. In presenting the results, note that the reasons why non-visitors did not go to local and state parks, and any barriers encountered by visitors to state and local parks are offered at the end of this chapter.

Questions about Local Parks

Respondents, 88.3%, agreed or strongly agreed that local governments have a responsibility to provide outdoor recreation lands and facilities. When questioned about the methods for how parks and recreation should be financed, 93% thought that voluntary contribution would be an ideal method, while 85.5% felt that state grant funds would be appropriate. The methods to finance parks and recreation are presented in Table 5.16.

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Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan Texans continue to support local efforts to fund parks. Since 2002, almost 90% of local ballot initiatives for recreation and parks (facilities and lands) have been approved by the voting public. In a survey conducted in 2009, 68% of respondents strongly/somewhat approved support for a constitutional amendment dedicating all outdoor sporting goods sales tax revenue to acquire, maintain, and operate state and local parks in Texas (Hill, White, Bezion, & Nemeck, 2009).

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Overwhelmingly, 93% of citizens responded YES to having visited a local park. Of those visiting, over 60% had gone to their local park more than 11 days in the past year.

Equally as impressive, 90% of citizens responded YES to having visited a state park.

Out of those that had visited a state park, 75% made one to ten visits. Figure 5.9 compares the local park and state park respondents on the number of visits made in the last 12 months.

For state parks, respondents were asked if they took children (under the age of 18) with them on their last visit. Sixty-two percent of state park visitors did not take children with them. This result is similar to the results found by the State Park Statewide Onsite Visitor Survey, which indicated that two-thirds of all state park visitors did not take children.

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The second portion of the survey is related to state parks. Similar questions on the local park issues such as funding, qualities, and needed facilities were asked of citizens.

Questions about State Parks Over 94% of Respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the state of Texas has a responsibility to provide outdoor recreation lands and facilities for its citizens; of those respondents over 90% believe that TPWD should receive a larger share of revenue from the sporting goods sales tax. The methods identified by citizens as being ideal for financing parks and recreation are presented in Table 5.20.

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“Texas State Parks need $4.6 million to help keep parks open. Record drought and devastating wildfires have created a critical situation for state parks. We need to raise $4.6 million to keep state parks open, and we can't do it without you. There are three simple ways

you can help:

• Visit state parks often with your family and friends – visitor fees pay for about half of all park operating costs.

• Make a tax-deductible donation.

• Make a donation when it's time to renew your vehicle, boat or trailer registration.

Please act now, to help keep Texas State Parks open for everyone to enjoy. Our state parks won't be the same without you.”

A message from Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director

Respondents were also asked to identify the reason that most influenced their decision to visit a state park based on a list of provided responses. Figure 5.9 illustrates the responses based on visitor’s most recent visit. See the survey results in Appendix E for Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan the complete list of the categories, and all the open-ended responses incorporated under ‘Other.’

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Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan For those respondents that answered NO to visiting local parks (7%) and state parks (10%) in the last 12 months, the responses are compared below. The top responses were similar for non-visitors to state parks and local parks, with their reasons for not visiting are that they are too busy with other activities and lack of time. Travel distance was also shown to be a top reason for not visiting state parks in the last year. The top responses for each type of park are highlighted in the table.

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Over 40% of respondents that said YES that they had made visits in the last 12 months to local and/or state parks said they did not encounter any barriers, as shown in Table

5.24. The top barriers encountered for local park visitors are “lack of time” and “poor maintenance.” For state park visitors, “travel distance” and “lack of time” were the top barriers encountered.

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The final questions in the survey requested limited demographic information, including zip code and age group of respondent. The results are presented in the following tables.

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Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan Chapter 5 – Outdoor Recreation Demand

The Economic Values and Impacts of Outdoor Recreation Economic impact and economic value both help characterize the importance of outdoor recreation in Texas. Economic impact has long been a tool to justify investments by the private sector. In the past couple of decades, a variety of studies have been completed that demonstrate the value to the local and state economies by the presence of parks and recreational facilities. This includes local job creation, increased sales tax revenue, and increased business transactions through lodging, food, and transportation by visitors. Sporting goods expenditures “Even beyond their and park visitor trip expenditures are two of the more important role in the tangible examples of economic impacts of outdoor daily life of cities large recreation on the Texas economy.

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