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Assessing Needs and Identifying Opportunities for ITS Applications in California National Parks

Project #: 426126
Start Date: 07/01/2001
End Date: 06/30/2006
Status: Completed

The National Park Service (NPS) has a tremendous impact on regional economies and transportation systems that should not be underestimated. According to the NPS, 1998 saw a total visitation to NPS-managed lands in California of 33.9 million visitors – exceeding any other state in the country – with approximately 15.7 million visitor-days spent on recreational visits. The economic impact of this visitation is significant on local and regional economics. With visitation projected to increase, National Parks in California and elsewhere are under extreme pressure to provide increased services with fewer resources and decaying infrastructure, while simultaneously trying to provide stewardship for an environment they are entrusted to protect for future generations. Isolated transportation planning processes between NPS and the department of transportation, traffic congestion, overcrowding by visitors, environmental sensitivity, managing limited fleets to provide services to increasing visitation, and carrying capacity are some of the issues known to be facing National Parks. While the results of high visitation and congestion are self-evident, the limited data on the users, traffic and demand management strategies, traveler information needs, institutional issues, economic impact and the ability to exchange information between Park units has had limited research attention, especially on a system wide level. Consequently, it becomes difficult to identify and match solutions to the challenges. This project will attempt to clarify the transportation issues facing National Parks in California, and will seek to recommend, deploy and evaluate technologies that may help to address these challenges. WTI is leading a research team that includes the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University, and the Texas Transportation Institute.


This project identifies transportation needs and potential ITS market packages for national parks in California, using stakeholder outreach and visitor surveys at two case study locations: Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.