To qualify for the programmatic clearance process, all questions in a survey must fit within one or more of the approved topic areas. Researchers have flexibility, within accepted standards of good survey design and OMB regulations, to modify or develop specific questions within the topic areas. The scope of the information collected will be limited to those that are germane to the topic being studied and relevant to the park and its management. There are no controversial or sensitive questions included in any topic area. The contribution of the areas will add to the focus of how people’s knowledge, values, and behaviors influence and affected by decisions about the use, conservation, and management of national parks. Brief descriptions of each topic area are listed below.
Topic Area 1: Respondent Characteristics
These questions characterize the population of respondents participating in each sample. Individual characteristics collected will be attributes of individual park visitors or visitor groups, potential visitors or groups, and residents of communities near parks. Individual characteristics collected will be relevant and limited to the mission, management, and/or operations of National Park System units.
Topic Area 2: Trip Planning
The section on Trip Planning includes aspects of travel which affect a trip or decisions which individuals make before, during, or after their trips to parks, related areas, and nearby communities. Trip characteristics will be relevant to the mission, management, and/or operations of National Park System units that are included in the scope of this topic area.
Topic Area 3: Trip Characteristics
This topic area will address four high level questions used to understand he emotional bond between person and place,: (1) current plans for visiting parks (2) future plans (3) current and future destinations and (4) place attachment. It is a common finding place attachment is thought to increase with greater time spent at it.
Topic Area 4: Transportation
The questions in this section will be used to fulfill management goals needed to develop strategies to meet transportation needs. These strategies address current and future land use, economic development, traffic demand, public safety, health, and social needs.
Topic Area 5: Visitor Use and Recreation Management
The questions in this section will be used to identify individual activities, behaviors, or uses of natural and cultural resources which are relevant to the mission, management, and/or operations of National Park System units. Understanding the current and future uses will be helpful to managers when considering updating park management plans and educational efforts.
Topic Area 6: Evaluation of Programs and Services
Public opinion of the services and facilities helps management teams understand the values people hold in relation to park resources and the visitor experience and is critical to creating a plans that can be successfully implemented. Understanding public values enables the management teams to make informed planning decisions.
Topic Area 7: Human Dimensions
The questions in this topic area focus on developing fundamental understandings of human behavior associated with resource management. The questions in this topic area will be used to help managers learn about public concerns, issues, expectations, and values. Preferences, motives and attitudes will be measured to determine how individual observations influence overall experiences. For purposes of the programmatic clearance process, perception questions will be limited to topics the park or the NPS can manage and control as well as current or potential goods and services.
Topic Area 8: Environmental Health and Resource Management
Questions in this topic area collect information concerning the public's awareness and observations of the natural and social environments in the parks. The questions in this topic area provide park resource managers with an understanding of the public’s awareness well as the social consequences of management actions.
Topic Area 9: Expenditures
Visitor expenditure and income information is needed to calculate the economic impact and benefit of park visitation. Economic impact measures how much the money people spend visiting parks and surrounding areas contributes to the local economy in terms of jobs and income. Accurate impact assessment requires identification of those portions of expenditures that occur in the local region and inside the park.
Topic Area 10:Constraints and Barriers for Non-Visitors
Research is necessary to develop a better understanding of non-visitors, including lapsed and invisible visitors. Surveys should include non-visitors that include virtual visitors, underserved communities and stakeholders so that comparisons and insights are drawn as appropriate.
Topic Area 11: Safety and Risk Management
his topic area explores visitor awareness, knowledge and perception of safety and injury prevention measures: Questions are tailored to cover aspects of individual activities and behaviors, and the acceptability of current safety practices. Understanding the factors associated with visitor behavior and perceptions for public risk management are critical to enforcement, education and emergency services that can be successfully implemented to reduce injury in parks
Questions that employ stated preference or stated choice techniques to estimate consumer surplus values and non-market values are OUTSIDE the scope of this approval. Collections approved through this programmatic process are to be used to make generalizations or be combined with any other survey responses outside the scope of the proposed survey request. Results should only be aggregated to the population of visitors to the specific park unit for which the approval is granted. There should be no attempt to disaggregate any values to generalize the results above or beyond of the scope of the intended proposed and approved purpose.
Surveys outside these topic areas and the scope of the programmatic review not be approved and will require clearance through the normal or regular OMB approval process as outlined in the Paperwork Reduction Act. The scope of the proposed information collection must be limited to issues that are germane to the study topic and are directly to park mission, management, and/or operations of National Park System sites.