TRNP to hold community engagement meetings
MEDORA—Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the University of Utah are inviting community members from Dickinson and the surrounding area to community engagement meetings this week.
During the spring of 2017, TRNP began a two-year study of how visitors use the park and local communities. The study seeks to understand how the park affects regional tourism and local economies, with an emphasis on economic stimulation and enhancing local quality of life, as well as understand community relationships and perceptions of the park to improve the visitor experience, advance park priorities and leverage partnerships.
The first meeting will be held at the West River Community Center on Tuesday, April 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. Mountain time. The meetings will be conducted by Kelly Bricker from the University of Utah.
Other meetings will be held at the Watford Hotel in Watford City from 7 to 9 p.m. Central time on Wednesday, April 25, and at the AmericInn in Medora from 7 to 9 p.m. Mountain time on Thursday, April 26.
All community members ages 18 and older are invited to give their input to help park officials make management decisions that strengthen relationships between the park and local communities.
Eileen Andes, chief of interpretation and public affairs at the park, said the population around the park has changed dramatically since the last visitor use survey that was conducted in 2001.
"The visitor use study is going to help us determine who our visitors are and what they're needs are," she said. "You can't meet visitor needs if you don't know who your visitors are and what they need. Visitors don't only include people who actually show up to our front door, they are people who engage with us on social media and by website and the communities around the park who benefit from the park."
Andes said the park wants to be a part of the community as much as the people who live in the communities.
"We understand that the park does affect the surrounding area and we want to see what those communities need from us as well," she said.
The park partnered with the University of Utah, Kansas State University and Clemson University to collect visitor use data inside the park. The study uses geospatial devices, traffic counters, photography, interviews and written surveys.
As part of a larger park study, the University of Utah staff will conduct interviews and
community surveys to help the park make sound management decisions that provide better visitor experiences.
The park wants to hear from as many residents as possible. For those unable to attend the community engagement meeting, community members can still participate through an online survey. The survey can be taken using the following link: " target="_blank">bit.ly/TRNP-Community.