Natural Resources and Environment:

Impact of Gasoline Constraints Should Be Considered in Managing Federal Recreation Facilities

CED-81-111: Published: Jun 30, 1981. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1981.

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During 1979 and 1980, when gasoline was in short supply and prices rose, the public's use of outdoor recreation facilities was significantly affected. People tended to use facilities closer to home. Recreation officials observed: longer stays at campgrounds; less vehicular movement within and between recreation areas; increased use of tents; and use of smaller cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles. The National Park Service experienced heavy declines in visitation at distant facilities. At the same time, the use of facilities in and near cities increased.

Most Federal agencies have not done enough to respond to indications that people are pursuing recreation closer to home and might want to use less gasoline while doing so. Forest Service policies include encouraging energy efficient transportation systems and locating new facilities near them. In addition, the National Park Service has developed a policy to promote public and nonmotorized transportation. However, neither agency has done much to carry out these policies. The Corps of Engineers and the Water and Power Resources Service (WPRS) have not taken any steps to develop recreation policies which take public gasoline conservation into consideration. Many measures undertaken for environmental protection or public service motives have had incidental gasoline conservation effects, such as shuttle bus service within parks and campground reservation policies. Recreation managers could make greater use of the National Park Service's exchange program by sharing information on gasoline conservation measures. Recreation managers need better forecasts of visitation trends so that they can consider applying their limited resources to facilities where more people are expected to go. Better forecasts will be needed to identify what factors affect recreation patterns and to forecast visitation levels. Forecasting research has been uncoordinated and has focused on determining recreation use at a point in time rather than establishing recreation trends. Statistical forecasting models could help improve recreation planning and management.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense should require their agencies to consider the results of improved forecasts in allocating financial resources to recreational facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense should require their agencies to consider the results of improved forecasts in allocating financial resources to recreational facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and Defense should require WPRS and the Corps of Engineers to adopt gasoline conservation policies.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and Defense should require WPRS and the Corps of Engineers to adopt gasoline conservation policies.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should coordinate and monitor research performed by various agencies on the long- and short-term effects that fuel shortages and high fuel costs have on the use of recreation facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense should require their agencies to consider the results of improved forecasts in allocating financial resources to recreational facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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