The Pacific Northwest Region of the USDA Forest Service is excited to announce the launch of a new regionwide recreation mobile app: the Pacific Northwest Forests app. The specialized software program will help the public find hiking trails, camping, picnicking, boating areas and more by using their cell phone GPS capabilities, according to a press release.
National forests in the Pacific Northwest receive over 15 million visits each year, and recreation users contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economies of both Oregon and Washington annually. According to Regional Forester Jim Peña, the Forest Service is focused on providing great visitor experiences in partnership with these local communities.
“This mobile app is one of many ways we are trying to do our part to be good neighbors and support both the communities we serve and the recreation users who visit,” said Peña. “We heard people want more mobile-friendly ways of getting their hiking, camping and other recreation information, and this app delivers just that.”
This mobile app allows visitors to easily discover recreational opportunities near them and serves as a complement to the Forest Service’s traditional website by providing a new way of connecting people to the outdoors.
Improving access to recreation opportunities and providing great customer service are top priorities for the Forest Service. According to Chris Bentley, digital media specialist for the Pacific Northwest Region, nearly half of the people using the Forest Service website are visiting on mobile devices. Having all the recreation information in one convenient place helps meet both priorities.
The first of its kind on this scale in the agency, the mobile app is centered on a mapping interface that helps adventurers become more familiar with recreation opportunities near them by providing information about the 17 national forests and scenic area in the Pacific Northwest.
Having all the recreation information within a single app means just one download instead of an individual app for every national forest people are interested in visiting.
“That’s one of the major reasons why providing our regionwide recreational information in a mobile app is so important,” said Bentley. “Many of our forests are adjacent to one another, and our visitors shouldn’t have to download multiple apps to connect more easily with their public lands.”
In addition to hiking, camping and other traditional recreation information, the app also provides information about current fires, current conditions of road and trail access and photo galleries to showcase beautiful areas in the region to give ideas for new places to visit.
The launch on May 21 was for Apple iOS users (iPhones and iPads) with an Android version coming soon.