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Southern Oregon University surveys Douglas County residents about parks

February 24, 2017 GMT

Southern Oregon University business students and the Douglas County Parks Department are teaming up to survey the people who use Douglas County’s parks.

Answers to the online survey’s questions will provide information about who is using the parks, and which parks are most popular. It also asks questions about park patrons’ satisfaction with everything from cleanliness to parking fees, and about which features, from restrooms to playgrounds, are most important to them.

Douglas County Parks Director Rocky Houston said three counties — Linn, Jackson and Douglas — are participating in the project. Some of the questions are different for each county, while others are the same and will allow comparisons between the counties.

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The counties pay nothing to participate in the survey. They receive information that can help them plan park operations, while the college students gain some real world survey experience, Houston said. The survey is being run by business students in both undergraduate and MBA programs.

The survey isn’t randomized, so it’s not scientific, but it will still provide helpful data, Houston said.

“It’s a picture that helps us see how we’re doing, and how we could improve,” he said.

That’s especially important now, he said, since people now pay parking fees when they visit the parks, making them not just park users but park patrons. The data could help the county make parks budget decisions.

“Hopefully we’re in tune with what the users’ needs are, and as much as we can, hopefully we meet those needs. That’s where the magic happens, between meeting what people want versus what resources do we have to do that,” Houston said.

It will also help the county compare itself to other counties and to statewide data, to see if the results are unique or consistent with other places.

Houston said he’d like to see more partnerships between colleges and the parks department in the future. Creating park maps or brochures, for example, might give students good experience and benefit the county.

“We’re just really honored and excited to have the partnership with Southern Oregon University,” he said.

Houston said he expects the county will receive the results of the survey in about a month.

To take the survey, visit https://sou.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_b3gh1uHbPlkWyAR