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FSU study finds high levels of satisfaction with Florida’s state parks

Researchers at Florida State University have submitted findings of a recent yearlong survey of Florida state park visitors to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The study, conducted as part of a contract between the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Recreation and Parks and FSU’s Program in Recreation and Leisure Services Administration, assessed visitor satisfaction and service quality of the parks.

The researchers, members of the Program in Recreation and Leisure Services Administration in FSU’s department of sport management, recreation management and physical education, distributed 30,000 surveys at 25 parks throughout the state at four different times of the year—spring, summer and fall 2005 and winter 2006. The goal was to better understand how park services are used, perceived and assessed by visitors.

Among the study’s findings:

  • A majority of the respondents were satisfied with their state park experience: More than 53 percent rated their visit a 10 on a 10-point scale.
  • Florida residents were more likely to be satisfied with their visit to Florida state parks than non-residents.
  • Overall, visitors were satisfied with the quality of services that were seen as important to their Florida state park experience, reporting high levels of satisfaction with the beauty of the parks, cleanliness of the park areas and facilities, and friendliness and helpfulness of the uniformed park staff.

"The findings of this study are valuable to the Florida Park Service as they make resource decisions to improve visitors’ overall park experiences," said Cheryl Beeler, an associate professor in FSU’s Program in Recreation and Leisure Services Administration and a researcher on the project.

Florida’s state parks system is one of the largest in the country, with 159 parks that span more than 723,000 acres and 100 miles of beach.

In addition to Beeler, other members of the FSU department of sport management, recreation management and physical education who were involved in the project were Joohyun Lee, an assistant professor, and Rosie Keween, an assistant in recreation management. The department is part of the university’s College of Education; additional information about it is available at www.fsu.edu/~smrmpe/.