Visitors Count! is a community science program that asks visitors to contribute information about their recreation experiences on public lands. These data help partners learn about the amount and character of recreational use. This information, in turn, allows them to improve or advocate for opportunities for visitors, while minimizing ecological and social impacts.
Visitors Count! is unique, in that it doesn’t require volunteers to download a particular app or scan a QR code. Instead, visitors simply exchange text messages with “Vic”, our friendly chatbot. Vic uses artificial intelligence to guide participants through a series of questions about the volunteer’s experience while on public lands.
Currently, Visitors Count! is primarily focused on collecting information about the popularity of destinations by counting the number of vehicles in parking lots. Outdoor R&D uses these vehicle counts, in combination with posts made publicly to social media platforms (Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram), trip reports posted to the Washington Trails Association website, and on-site data collected by researchers and managers, to gain a fuller understanding of recreation patterns on public lands.
Visitors Count in Washington
Outdoor enthusiasts in Washington are encouraged to submit additional information about their experiences at recreation sites on Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Along with partners from the US Forest Service and American Mountain Guides Association, the Outdoor R&D Team is compiling knowledge from the outdoor community into maps and graphs that provide managers with an up-to-date picture of the demand for recreation opportunities across the National Forest.