The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) periodically collects National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) visitor data at a national scale to respond to legislative mandates such as the Government Performance and Results Act and to improve refuge management and visitor services. Recently, the FWS asked social scientists in the Policy Analysis and Science Assistance (PASA) Branch of the USGS Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) to conduct a more comprehensive survey of visitors to 52 refuges across the country that addresses both national and refuge-level needs.
In order to develop a customized sampling protocol that is responsive to refuge parameters, PASA scientists needed a secure, Web-based tool through which investigators and points of contact (POCs) at the 52 study refuges can efficiently communicate with each other and share data and files.
In response, the FORT Web Applications Team developed the “Refuge Information Site for the National Visitor Survey," a one-stop shop for everything related to setting up and conducting this national survey (Fig. 1).
This tool enables refuge POCs to log key information about each refuge, including sampling periods (Fig. 2) and locations (Fig. 3), availability of staff and volunteers to contact visitors onsite about participating in the survey, and any special concerns. The PASA team is using this information to develop an appropriate sampling protocol for conducting the NWR survey.
Additionally, the Web site serves as a portal for sharing information and files. For example, the training materials for the survey recruiters are housed on the site so that recruiters can review them prior to sampling. The Refuge Information Site will be used throughout the study to communicate, transmit data, and share documents, including the survey results.
With this application, what once would have taken hundreds of emails exchanging information and files can now occur in a single, highly functional space.