Recreation and Wilderness Monitoring. Nevada is home to 3.4 million acres of Congressionally designated wilderness. To help federal land management agencies maintain the natural character and primitive-and-unconfined-recreational opportunities of the wilderness areas, Research Associates gather baseline data on wilderness characteristics and visitor use. These data help protect and preserve important natural resources by mitigating problems and educating wilderness users and the general public.

The BLM’s Battle Mountain District. The Battle Mountain District does not have designated wilderness, but it has numerous Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) which the BLM must manage in order to protect the areas’ wilderness qualities. RAs used GPS units, digital cameras and specific inventory guidelines to collect spatial data and photo points on 351,219 acres within seven WSAs – Morey Peak, South Reveille, Rawhide Mountain, Fandango, Kawich, Palisade Mesa, and The Wall. Data gathered assesses routes, route types, route suitability, route points, range improvements, mining disturbance, signs, campsites, or any other form of disturbance.

The BLM’s Winnemucca District. RAs emply standardized monitoring methodologies to complete wilderness monitoring throughout the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trail NCA and its ten associated wilderness areas. Specific projects included campsite and road inventories, as well as rehabilitation activities, including sign/post installation and road decommissioning. Rehabilitation projects coincide with public outreach/volunteers events to engage and educate public lands users about Tread Lightly, Leave-No-Trace principles, as well as the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Building trails is one thing; building them right is something else entirely. Research Associate Vince LaPlante aligns and designs trails in accordance with BLM and Forest Service standards, and ensures proper trail construction standards.

Building trails is one thing; building them right is something else entirely. Research Associate Vince LaPlante aligns and designs trails in accordance with BLM and Forest Service standards, and ensures proper trail construction standards.

Trails. Quality hiking, biking, equestrian or motorized trails may be easy to travel, but they require careful planning and construction in orderto withstand people, elements and the test of time. GBI Research Associates support agency planning and implementation of trails projects, from initial public scoping, to project design and alignment, to NEPA clearance. RAs also provide leadership to our NCC crews to construct tread, retaining walls (dry stone masonry), drainages, bridges, French dams, and ADA-compliant features. RAs have contributed to the design, construction and maintenance of trails in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Ruby Mountains, Great Basin National Park, and Lake Tahoe (the Flume Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail).

Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston Climbing Inventory. Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston are home to some of the premier rock climbing areas in the world, which also happen to be in three designated wilderness areas. In cooperation with the BLM and USFS, RAs assist efforts to update the Wilderness Recreation Management Plans for these areas. The climbing crew map and catalog known and developed climbing routes using climbing guidebooks and the local climbing community as references, creating the first complete climbing inventory for Red Rocks and Mt. Charleston. Each route is inventoried, capturing spatial data regarding the location of climbing routes and approaches. The RAs digitize these data using GIS software, which helps the BLM and U.S. Forest Service evaluate climbing-specific impacts on the desert and mountain environments.

Visitor Use Surveys. In addition to being a major tourist destination, the Las Vegas metropolitan area has been one of the fastest growing urban areas in the nation for decades. As a result, increasing numbers of residents and tourists are looking to adjacent federal lands for outdoor recreation opportunities. In response, GBI collaborates with the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a first-of-its-kind National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) survey. Standardized survey protocols and questionnaires are used to gain a better understanding of visitor and non-visitor preferences and to examine recreational needs and trends in southern Nevada. The results of these surveys help land managers better protect natural resources while providing high-quality visitor experiences. Additionally, GBI RAs implemented a visitor use survey project for the Nevada Division of State Parks, traversing the state to survey visitors at all 23 Nevada State Parks. In addition to basic demographic data, the Division accumulates data about what users like about each facility and what improvements should be made.