What visitors want
San Mateo County park rangers are surveying visitors in an effort to better understand the people who are drawn to local parks. Cat Cutillo / Review

To learn more about the people it serves, the San Mateo County Parks Department is spending several weeks surveying visitors about their park experience.

The first-of-its-kind survey is being administered by rangers and volunteers in 20 county parks, including Devil’s Slide Trail and Quarry Park on the Coastside. It is one of the department’s first steps in preparing to update its strategic plan, according to County Parks Director Marlene Finley. County Parks is partnering with San Francisco State University’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism to carry out the project. The San Francisco State group has conducted similar studies for other park agencies.

“It will provide a lot of information for us on where people are coming from, what they’re doing in parks, what language they speak at home,” Finley said. “Working with San Francisco State University, many of our questions are similar to other research (they’ve) done, so we can compare our results with others.”

Some of the survey questions ask visitors how often they visit San Mateo County parks, how they find out about them and whether they feel safe in them.

Rangers will ask visitors to take the survey at random. The initial questionnaire is administered via tablet computer and takes about eight minutes to finish. Those willing to take a follow-up survey that asks more about the value of county parks will be entered into a drawing for a $100 REI gift card or a yearlong free entry pass for county parks. Visitors who take the first survey will receive a free day pass.

The department’s goal is to collect 2,100 of the shorter survey responses, according to County Parks Community Programs Specialist Carla Schoof.

Survey results will be released in September.

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