Nisqually River Water Trail Survey Overview

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The NRC, as a part of an effort to establish a water trail on the Nisqually River, conducted a survey to understand public opinions towards such a trail.

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Nisqually River Water Trail Survey Overview

  1. 1. 1 Nisqually River Water Trail Survey Overview This survey was conducted as part of a larger planning effort led by the Nisqually River Council. Technical assistance is being provided by the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. An Advisory Committee has been formed to help guide development of the planning process. The vision for the water trail is to provide high quality non-motorized public recreation opportunities that are aligned with efforts to protect the natural environment, including threatened and endangered species habitat and protected lands. A public survey was released to gather input from the public on where they go, what activities they do, what they value about the Nisqually, issues and problems they have encountered, and what their vision is for the future. The results will help inform the plan and recommendations. The survey was internet based and ran from September to December 2015. It was promoted on Nisqually River Council’s website, American Whitewater’s website, media releases, and at the Open House in November. A number of recreational and environmental organizations also spread the word about the survey to their membership networks. The survey did not use random sampling, and so does not represent a random sampling of the general population. There were 146 people who responded to the survey. Though not a random sample of visitors, the results illustrate the types of recreation activities people engage in, what values are important and unique to the Nisqually, issues and concerns occurring, and a range of recommendations desired in the future. Table of Contents Current Use and Activities ........................................................................................................................... 2 Boaters......................................................................................................................................................... 5 Non-Boaters................................................................................................................................................. 8 Vision for the Future.................................................................................................................................... 9 Issues and Barriers..................................................................................................................................... 12 Values ........................................................................................................................................................ 13 Economic Activity ...................................................................................................................................... 15 Demographics............................................................................................................................................ 16
  2. 2. 2 Current Use and Activities Visitation to the Nisqually River (146/146 respondents) The first question in the survey asked have you been to the Nisqually River. After responding to this, two tracks in the survey were created: users and non-users. Since the survey only captured three non- users, this information is not included. Activity Participation by Season (130/146 respondents) Survey respondents listed walking/hiking, wildlife and bird watching, and boating as the top three activities they participated in. Use was spread throughout the seasons with summer receiving the highest participation levels. 98% 2% Have you ever visited the Nisqually River? See the map as a reference. Yes No
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  4. 4. 4 Locations Visited (129/146 respondents) Survey participants were asked where they had been along the Nisqually River. The most popular locations were the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Pack Forest, and McKenna Park.
  5. 5. 5 Boaters Boaters/Floaters (130/146 respondents) Sixty percent of respondents had boated or floated the Nisqually River. This question then created two tracks; boaters were asked a series of additional questions on their use and preferences and non-boaters were asked why they had not yet boated/floated the Nisqually River. Reaches Visited by Time of Year (70/146 respondents)
  6. 6. 6 Preferred Craft (70/146 respondents) The most popular crafts were kayaks, rafts, and drift boats. Paddling Lengths (62/146 respondents) Ten miles was the most common preferred miles to paddle in one day.
  7. 7. 7 Distances Able to Carry Craft (69/146 respondents) Respondents were asked how far they would be willing to carry their craft; 39% stated they could carry their craft a quarter of a mile and 32% said they could not carry their craft any distance.
  8. 8. 8 Flows (35/146 respondents) Boaters were asked about flows, with the following most common responses outlined below: • Lowest boatable flow: 500-1000 cfs • Standard boatable flow: 1000-2000 cfs • High boatable flow: 1500-4000 cfs Non-Boaters Reasons Participants Do Not Boat/Float the Nisqually River (77/146 respondents) Respondents that had not yet boated the Nisqually River were asked why; the most common responses were: • I don’t have a boat to use • If river access was opened up and information about it made more widely available, I might be interested in coming to the river to recreate. • I need more information about the boating and floating opportunities If you don't float or boat the river, why not? Check all that apply.
  9. 9. 9 Vision for the Future Desired Amenities for the Water Trail (115/146 respondents) Participants were asked what type of features they would like to see in the future. The responses were pretty wide spread across all the amenities and the most valued responses were new access sites to put- in/take-out boats, a map/guide of the water trail, ability to access hiking trails along the water trail, and signs along the water trail that identify access sites and hazards.
  10. 10. 10 Managed River Access (109/146 respondents) Participants rated the options for managed access. The most popular ones were: • Allowing the river to be open for a few weeks at a time during certain times of the year • Gated river access where boaters would park outside the gate and walk down their boats to the river, boat carts would be provided to help with towing heavy boats. • A permit that allows boaters to park at an access site. The permit system would likely be limited to just a few vehicles at a time. 0.00 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00 New access sites to put-in/take-out boats A map/guide of the water trail Ability to access hiking trails along the water trail Signs along the water trail that identify access sites and hazards Availability of restrooms Interpretive guides about safety and the natural and cultrual resources of the area Well marked areas to get out of boats to stretch, etc Ability to camp along the water trail Availability of drinking water Looking into the future, imagine a water trail was developed. What features of a water trail are most valuable to you?
  11. 11. 11 Willingness to Pay for Map/Guide (115/146 respondents) Participants were asked if they would be willing to pay for a map/guide; the majority (43%) indicated they would be willing and 23% said they would not. 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Allow river use for several weeks during certain times of the year. Gated river access where boaters would park outside the gate and walk down their boats to the river, boat carts would be provided to help with towing heavy boats. A permit that allows boaters to park at an access site. The permit system would likely be limited to just a few vehicles at a time. A fee-based shuttle service where vehicles are parked at the take-out and personal boats are transported to the put-in by an outfitter who has access. Fee-based guided trips To make river recreation compatible with endangered species protection, we are exploring several options for the upper reaches of the Nisqually River. Please share your thoughts on these options. Very High Value High Value Neutral Low Value Very Low Value
  12. 12. 12 Issues and Barriers (65/146 respondents) Participants were asked open ended questions on if there were any barriers or issues to their use of the Nisqually River. In addition they were asked if they had anything else they would like to share. The most common responses were lack of access, need for more information, and safety concerns. Below is a summarized list of the responses: • Need more access • Need more information • Concern about safety (log jams, sharp objects in the river, fast moving water, unskilled users) • Litter • Power plant take-out - need more room • Crime • Lack of places to fish • Need better drift boat access • Need more parking at trailheads • Address disrespect of private property and create approved haul out areas that do not conflict with private property • Getting around the diversion dam • Jet boats/speed boats too close to other boaters • Lack of enforcement
  13. 13. 13 • Poaching • Not enough room for parking at McKenna • Need areas for kids to explore • Rough shuttle road • Behavior issues with other users (rudeness, aggressiveness, alcohol use) • Focus on land based activities in the upper reach • Reestablish take-out at tank crossing permits from Ft Lewis • Keep it the way it is • Remove the dams • Archaeological sites protection • Reopen Luhr beach fishing pier for fishing • Need bathrooms Values Participants were asked a series of questions on what their values were. Overall Value Rating (113/146 respondents) Survey respondents rated ecological, recreational and cultural values highest. Value Rating of the Reaches by Boaters (70/146 respondents) 0 1 2 3 4 Economic Value (logging, non-timber forest products, agriculture, tourism, drinking water, etc) Subsistence Value (hunting areas, firewood, gathering berries/mushrooms, etc) Education Value (outdoor classroom, etc) Spiritual/Aesthetic Value (viewpoints, waterfalls etc) Cultural and Historic Values (tribal history, heritage sites, homesteads, etc) Recreation Value (hiking, boating, wildlife watching, etc.) Ecological Values (wetlands, old growth, endangered species habitat, etc) What do you see as the highest value(s) of the Nisqually River Watershed?
  14. 14. 14 Participants rated the recreation and aesthetic qualities of the reaches they had boated or floated. Nisqually to McKenna Park, McKenna Park to the Powerhouse, and Luhr Beach to the Nisqually Delta were rated highest. Value Rating by Activities (109/146 responses) Participants rated walking/hiking, wildlife and bird watching, outdoor education, boating and photography as the highest valued activities. Unique Qualities (48/146 respondents) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% NisquallyStatePark toMcKennaPark McKennaParktothe Powerhouse Powerhousetothe 6thAvenueAccess Site 6thAveAccessSite toLuhrBeach LuhrBeachtothe NisquallyDelta McAllisterReach Please rate your experiences with the following reaches based on the recreational and aesthetic qualities of the experience. Outstanding Good Neutral Fair Poor 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Please rate the following activities for their recreational and educational experiences along the Nisqually River. Very High Value High Value Neutral Low Value Very Low Value
  15. 15. 15 Survey respondents were asked to describe the unique opportunities that the Nisqually River offered. This open ended question provided diverse responses, the most common themes were: • a wild river that is protected, unspoiled, natural • cultural importance and connection to the Nisqually Indian Tribe • close to home • quality of the recreational experiences offered Economic Activity Expenditures (102/146 respondents) Respondents reported the amount of money they spent on their last trip; the most common responses were: $6-$25, $26-$50, and $61-$75.
  16. 16. 16 Communities Visitors Stopped and Spent Money at (102/146 respondents) The top towns survey respondents spent money in were Yelm, Eatonville, and Lacey. Demographics Where Do You Live? (108/146 respondents) Survey participants all came from Washington State with the majority less than a two hour drive away. The most common responses were Olympia, Yelm, Eatonville, and the Seattle area.
  17. 17. 17 Age (112/146 respondents) The age distribution of the participants is shown below. 6% 7% 8% 6% 2% 18% 5% 3% 3% 6% 12% 24% Ashford Seafle area Eatonville Lacey Nisqually Reservagon Olympia Puyallup Rainier Roy Tacoma Yelm Other
  18. 18. 18 Gender (112/146 respondents)

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