Visitor Use at Nature Centers

Project Lead

  • Thomas Treiman

Project Researchers

  • Michele Baumer
Survey clerks at Columbia Bottom CA

Project Summary

Missouri’s Design for Conservation has allowed the Missouri Department of Conservation to open twelve Conservation Nature and Interpretive Centers, many in urban areas. There Missourians can begin to learn about the outdoors and, perhaps, start a lifetime of hunting or fishing. The managers of those areas need to know how many visitors come, what they do, and, in tight budget times, what economic value they receive. Over the last several years, we have worked to develop quick, standardized methods for visitor surveys. Results so far range from about 80,000 visits per year at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center to over 300,000 at Branson’s Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, including 139,000 first-time visitors. Staff and volunteers collected information on what visitors did, where they came from and how they rated their visit. We estimate the economic value of the Nature and Interpretive Centers to the visitors, with results as high as $2 million per year at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center.

Sun, 02/01/2009

Project Updates

Trails at Springfield Nature Center

Information on reasons why people choose not or are unable to use the Springfield Conservation Nature Center and its many programs from three focus groups.

Project Datasets

No datasets have been added to this project.

Project Papers & Presentations

Attitudes and Opinions of Runge Conservation Nature Center Lapsed Visitors

Opened to the public in 1993, Runge Conservation Nature Center (RCNC) has 3000 square feet of indoor exhibits, 112 acres, and 5 trails. Programming at RCNC is targeted at all age groups. As part of a visitor use survey at RCNC focus groups were held with lapsed visitors to explore past visitation patterns, attitudes, reasons attendance had lapsed, and what might entice them to return.

Missouri Nature Centers Bring New Users to Conservation: Estimating Visits and Economic Value

Missouri Nature Centers Bring New Users to Conservation: Estimating Visits and Economic Value:

In the 1970’s the Design for Conservation ballot measure brought about a much broader approach to conservation –

  • Non-game wildlife
  • habitat approach
  • everyone pays for conservation

Interpretive sites: All MDC Nature Centers have the same mission of helping Missourians connect with nature and conserve it too.
But MDC needs to be accountable. How best to manage those sites? Managers need up-to-date information.


Human Dimensions, Resource Economics


Onsite survey, Public Use Surveys