Who Visits U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges? Research Team Explores Generational Differences

Research Engineer Natalie Villwock-Witte and Research Associate Karalyn Clouser have completed a study for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which compares the travel preferences of Millennials, Generation X, and the Baby Boomer generation.  The purpose of this study was to understand how the generational cohorts prefer to access federal lands, particularly their interest in using active transportation modes (such as shuttles, walking, and bicycling) to travel to USFWS Refuges.

To collect the study data, online surveys were administered to residents of California, Colorado, and Texas, three states with large numbers of USFWS Refuges as well as large available sample sizes. One of the unique aspects of the study was that it sought input from the general population within these states, rather than visitors who were already at a Refuge or other federal land.

The findings may provide the USFWS with a better understanding of who visits their refuges now, and how that may change in the future.  “Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials may be engaging with federal lands more often than previously understood,” said Principal Investigator Villwock-Witte; “also, Baby Boomers, who in the past have been the most frequent visitors to federal lands, may be less inclined to recreate on them as they age.   Almost half of the survey respondents reported physical limitations, and others (i.e. younger generations) the need to accommodate the needs of small children with whom they now travel.”

When published by the USFWS, the final report will be posted to the project page.

 

WTI Researchers Take Center Stage at National Public Lands Conference

WTI Researchers Address Future of Transportation in Public Lands at National Conference

The Western Transportation Institute played a prominent role in the recent Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands, held in Washington, DC from September 11 -13. Steve Albert and Natalie Villwock-Witte served on the planning committee for this national conference, which brought together practitioners from around the country to exchange ideas on how to enhance mobility, environmental stewardship, and visitor expericence in public land settings.  Several researchers were invited to present their work during the three day forum: Tony Clevenger co-led a workshop on wildlife crossings in Banff National Park, Rebecca Gleason and Taylor Lonsdale presented guidance on improving safety on rural roads with both vehicle and bicycle traffic, and Natalie Villwock-Witte gave presentations on both collaborative approaches to road safety plans and generational interest in visiting US Fish and Wildlife Refuges. Linda MacIntyre of the National Park Service led a workshop on congestion management, in which she highlighted the Congestion Management Toolkit developed by Jaime Sullivan and David Kack. Karalyn Clouser’s research project on  using GIS to create a route identification system for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was presented by her BLM co-author T.J. Clifford.  At the end of the conference, Steve Albert led and facilitated the closing session, which addressed future transportation issues and challenges facing public lands.

WTI has a long history of leadership on public lands transportation issues. In 1999, WTI helped create and host “National Parks: Transportation Alternatives and Advanced Technology for the 21st Century,” one of the first national forums to call attention to the unique challenges of developing sustainable and context-sensitive transportation solutions in these environments.  Steve Albert has served on the TRB Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands since 2002, including six years as Chair of the Research Subcommittee.

Steve Albert leads closing session on the future of transportation in public lands

Gallatin County Approves Funding for Skyline Bus Service

On August 15, the Gallatin County Commission approved $68,500 in funding for the Skyline bus service in Big Sky, Montana, for fiscal year 2018.  This is the second year in a row that the Commission has invested in the service, according to WTI Program Manager David Kack, who also serves the Big Sky Transportation District Coordinator. The new funding was mentioned in a feature article about the growth and development of the region on the website of Explore Big Sky magazine. Read more about WTI’s history helping to develop the Skyline service here.

On the Climb to Big Sky – Skyline Bus Service Growing in Popularity

The Skyline bus service from the Bozeman area to Big Sky is not just for skiers anymore.  Ridership grew by almost 9% last year, or an additional 16,000 rides, and a lot of the riders are traveling to Big Sky for work, not play.  In an interview on KBZK TV, WTI Program Manager David Kack (who is also the Coordinator for the Big Sky Transportation District), explained that 83 % of the Big Sky workforce commutes from surrounding communities like Bozeman and Belgrade, which likely accounts for part of Skyline’s growth in ridership.  David was also interviewed recently by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle regarding Skyline’s efforts to seek funding from the Gallatin County Commission to help pay for additional service to meet the growing demand. To learn more about WTI’s work with the Big Sky Transportation District, click here.

National Transit Program Promotes Intercity Bus Report

Last week, the National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) highlighted a report by the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) in its online newsletter. The “Intercity Bus Stop Analysis,” authored by WTI’s Karalyn Clouser and David Kack, analyzed demographics in each of the forty-eight contiguous states, and provided an analysis of the number of rural and small urban communities that have access to the Greyhound intercity bus service network. RTAP described the publication as a resource that “should help state DOTs as they determine whether intercity bus service needs are being met in their states.” Read the RTAP newsletter here, or access the full Intercity Bus Stop Analysis on the SURLC website.

 

WTI cruises through the May Commuter Challenge

Another Montana Commuter Challenge is in the books, and WTI made a solid showing in this year’s standings. Logging 781 miles over 98 trips, we just barely missed the top ten, falling in line behind Bangtail Bikes with 101 trips. Together we saved 765.38 lbs of CO2 emissions and burned 38,269 calories. That’s approximately 163 tacos, for something easier to wrap your head around. 😊

Sixty teams participated in the Bozeman Commuter Challenge this year, making up a significant portion of the 171 teams statewide. We’re looking forward to an even bigger crowd next year as we work with businesses and employers around Bozeman to encourage active transportation and sustainable commutes!

WTI transit project spotlight in Rural Connections Magazine

Graphic for Transit feasibility article in rural Connections Magazine.A WTI project on developing viable transit options in Wyoming is the subject of a feature article in the Spring 2017 issue of Rural Connections Magazine. David Kack, Jaydeep Chaudhari, and Taylor Lonsdale authored “Exploring Transit Feasibility in Park County, Wyoming,” which highlighted their collaboration with the Powell Economic Partnership, Inc. and the Forward Cody, Inc. to identify transportation alternatives that nurture economic development and expand job opportunities for residents. The full article is available to read here

Connected Vehicles Presentation Featured at Statewide Traffic Education Conference

Screen shot of Craig Shankwitz (WTI)Craig Shankwitz spoke to the Montana Traffic Educators Association conference in Great Falls, Montana last week, delivering a presentation on emerging vehicle technologies.  In his remarks, he stated that the connected vehicle technologies are more likely to be widely deployed before autonomous (or driverless) vehicles. Connected vehicles communicate to other vehicles or to roadside infrastructure, which enables important updates and alerts about safety, traffic, or road conditions that can be sent directly to one’s car. Craig’s presentation was featured in a TV news story in Great Falls.

Bozeman Commuter Challenge starts today!

Logo for Bozeman Commuter Project with sub text "Rethink Transportation" Text overlays on arrows pointing in opposite directions, imply directions of commute. Background graphic of mountains.Got your bike, walking shoes, or bus schedule ready? May 1 is the first day of the Bozeman Commuter Challenge. Special thanks to the Montana State University News Service for highlighting the event last week in a story on the MSU website.  WTI will use Bike Walk Montana’s Commuter Challenge website to keep track of miles and compete both statewide and locally. It’s not too late to sign up at www.mtcommuterchallenge.org  Look first for the WTI Team and register yourself with our team. The Challenge is open to anyone working in the greater Bozeman area, there is no cost to enter, and participants are eligible to win great prizes from some of Bozeman’s best local businesses. WTI’s Dani Hess was featured in KBZK’s coverage on the event last week. For questions, email Dani Hess at daniellehess@montana.edu