British Columbia Ministry of Forests


Chapter 4: Recreation Program Management

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Overview
4.3 Recreation Program Management

4.3.1 Business Plans
4.3.2 Non-ministry Funding
4.3.3 Source Documents
4.3.4 Basic Recreation Program
4.3.5 Formats

4.4 Recreation Reporting

4.4.1 Annual Reports
4.4.2 Formats

4.5 Recreation Audits

4.5.1 Procedures and Responsibilities

4.6 References

4.1 Introduction

This chapter deals with recreation program management, including recreation business planning, reporting (including annual reports), and program audits (the Program Audit sub-activity). Other functions associated with the broad subject area of program management are discussed elsewhere in this manual (e.g., policy development in Chapter 3).

Business plans, budgets, reporting and program audits form a set of four interlocking functions that constitute the core of program management. These four functions address the overall, interactive and on-going process of establishing operational performance goals, securing the resources to meet those goals (budget submissions), and monitoring actual accomplishments in relation to approved goals (reporting and program audits).

This chapter is intended to serve as a practical guide for recreation staff on participating effectively in business planning, the monitoring and reporting of recreation trends, and audits. Due to the ever-changing world of business planning, staff should contact their supervisors to obtain information about the most current business planning requirements.

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4.2 Overview

Program management is
dynamic. Because it is
dependent upon administrative
organizations and procedures
that are external to the
recreation program, the
procedures, responsibilities and
formats set forth in this chapter
can be expected to change and
require continual updating. 

A basic format is presented in
this chapter to assist recreation
staff in providing input to ever-
changing business planning


Developing a district
recreation plan is one of the
most important steps in
managing a recreation



Program management (or "programming") is one of three interlocking processes: planning, programming and budgeting.

A flow chart reflecting the process of program management in the ministry in 1998 and indicating the links between plans, programs and budgets is reproduced as Figure 1, on the following page.

Recreation program management involves:

  • the development of recreation priorities (project descriptions are recommended, but optional);
  • participation in the business planning process (preparation of budget submissions and allocation of budgets received); and
  • reporting of activities and trends (production of annual reports) and carrying out program audits.

For districts, recreation priorities should be based on district recreation planning to ensure that district, ministry and strategic direction, including higher level plan objectives, are all adequately taken into account.

As illustrated below, the components of program management interlock, and are very much dependent upon one another.

components of program management

Figure 1

Note regarding Figure 1   (see below):

With the introduction of the Forest Practices Code and strategic land use planning, this
flowchart has changed substantially. At the time of writing, districts, regions and
branch are largely autonomous responsibility and cost centres.

District recreation plans are the main tool available to the district
recreation officer for providing input to strategic and
operational planning processes, and form the basis for
establishing recreation priorities (project descriptions are
recommended, but optional).

links between plans, programs and budgets

4.3 Recreation Program Management

District recreation plans provide one of the most important tools for developing recreation priorities

District recreation plans offer an important mechanism for:

  • describing projects in greater
    detail than business plans
    allow; and
  • setting overall program goals
    and objectives.

One of the first key steps in program management is the development of priorities.

The primary vehicle for developing recreation priorities at the district level is the district recreation plan. The district recreation plan is designed to take both strategic and operational direction and considerations into account in the development of priorities.

Once recreation priorities have been developed, the next step (recommended, but optional) is to prepare detailed project descriptions.

District recreation plans, along with project descriptions, set out, in terms of specific projects to be undertaken, the goals and objectives to be achieved.

Steps in Preparing for
Project Implementation:

  1. Prepare an initial list of recreation priorities (based on the district recreation plan). Use this list to submit a draft business plan.
  2. Once the business plan is approved, revise the initial list to reflect budget allocation, resulting in the final project priorities.

There are essentially two main steps to developing a list of projects that are ready to be implemented.

The first step is the preparation of an initial list of recreation priorities (or updating the current list) using existing direction relevant to the program (e.g., district recreation plan, statutory authority, strategic direction, resource management plans, operational needs). This initial list is then used as the basis for preparing budget submissions (in the form of draft business plans) which, in turn, lead to budget decisions and allocations through the business planning process (approved business plans).

The second step is the revision of the initial list of priorities to reflect the budget allocation and establish which projects have been funded and which have not. This revised list (and project descriptions) reflects the approved business plan and becomes the final, working project list.

The approved business plan, therefore, provides the basic reference for project objectives and performance goals, and serves as the basis for program audit.

Overview of Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Undertake and maintain recreation inventories and folio of digital maps.
  2. Develop district recreation plan, with recommended recreation priorities and actions, taking provincial and regional priorities into consideration.
  3. Submit list of recreation priorities to district business planning process and any available non-ministry funding sources (FRBC).
  4. Prepare project descriptions for highest priority projects approved by the district and non-Ministry of Forests (MoF) sources.
  5. Provide input to strategic planning and operational planning, as required, and review forest development plans, cutblock approvals, etc.
  1. Coordinate and support digital inventory mapping for
  2. Provide districts with list of regional priorities.
  3. Review and discuss district recreation priorities with districts in light of regional priorities, strategic land use direction, and available funding mechanisms
  4. Coordinate recreation planning across districts and supervise completion of regional recreation plans (as required).
  5. Develop regional standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  6. Prepare regional recreation priorities and submit funding requests (ministry and non-ministry funding sources).
  7. Prepare project descriptions for high-priority projects.
  8. Monitor districts as appropriate.
  1. Undertake research and develop policy and procedures to support district and region requirements.
  2. Prepare a list of branch priorities, submit to business planning processes, and prepare project descriptions.
  3. Maintain essential knowledge and expertise to provide relevant advice to regions and districts in terms of executive direction, inter-agency initiatives, research, inventory, extension and training.
  4. Provide provincial context and coordination for region and district planning and implementation of recreation projects. 
  5. Propose and develop legislative amendments to acts and regulations.

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4.3.1 Business Plans

Accountability and

Business plans form accountability "contracts" between district managers, regional managers, branch directors, and the ministry executive. Both the manager and the supervisor sign the business plan and are accountable for managing according to the plan during the year, within the limits of their control.

Business plans must be completed, approved and signed as early as practical in the fiscal year to which they apply.

Basic Principles

Business plans are developed and used in accordance with corporate principles which include the following:

  • business plans are operational (not strategic) and comprehensive (including all activities, not just new initiatives);
  • business plans have a broadly consistent format (brief,
    minimum corporate components supplemented to meet specific divisional needs);
  • priorities are articulated before business plans are developed (executive, divisional, regional/district, branch, program);
  • business plans are developed within an approved funding framework (initial parameters, approved budget allocation);
  • the level of delivery is balanced across programs according to priorities, is realistically achievable within the funding allocation, and is in accordance with provincially accepted standards (where they exist);
  • there is a link between ministry-wide annual or multi-year plans (where they exist) and annual business plans; and,
  • last year's business plan (actual delivery) provides guidance in developing this year's business plan.
Roles and Responsibilities

 Regional/district managers roles and responsibilities:

  • identify district or regional office program priorities;
  • develop district and regional office annual business plans by determining a balanced and realistic level of delivery, based on priorities and information that staff have provided by summarizing program-specific plans; and
  • ensure the integrity of the business plan, the standards to which it is developed, and ongoing management of district and Regional office operations by using the plan.

Branch directors roles and responsibilities:

  • Develop branch business plans for activities that each branch is accountable for delivering by:
  • establishing and articulating branch priorities; and

  • developing a realistic and balanced business plan, ensuring the integrity of the plan, the standards to which it is developed, and managing against it throughout the year.

  • Provide staff advice to divisions, regions, and districts.
  • With the participation of region/district staff:
  • establish long-term and annual program priorities;

  • develop and articulate program standards.

Figure: The Business Plan Cycle:

business plan cycle


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4.3.2 Non-ministry Funding

Non-ministry sources are often important sources of funding for recreation projects. For example, many recreation projects were funded through the joint federal/provincial Forest Resources Development Agreements (FRDA I & II) during the early 1990s.

Forest Renewal British
Columbia (FRBC)
investment plans

FRBC is a provincial crown corporation created in 1994 to renew the forest economy of British Columbia by investing some of the wealth generated by the province's forests back into the land and into the communities and industry that the forest land base supports.

FRBC may fund activities that improve forest recreation facilities and opportunities, increase public awareness and appreciation of the values of the province's forests, and improve forest recreation management. This funding also can enhance community stability and economic diversification, and to help maintain the quality of life in resource-dependent communities. Current FRBC guidelines include:

  • In order to manage non-ministry or community demand for the program, all public recreation program inquiries will be directed to the appropriate ministry (MoF/Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks) for initial assessment. 

Recreation staff should consult current FRBC guidelines for detailed information on preparing proposals for submission.

Staff should also contact the local regional office of FRBC for specific information on the delivery model proposed for that Region.

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4.3.3 Source Documents

The key source documents that will be referenced or used in program management are:

Strategic Land Use Plans
  • strategic land use plans (including regional land use plans, cabinet decisions, land and resource management plans), and higher level plans under the Forest Practices Code (including landscape unit plans, sensitive area objectives, and recreation site, recreation trail and interpretive forest site objectives);
Forest Development Plans
and Management Plans
  • development plans and management plans, in particular, the pertinent recreation components of the relevant TSA development plans and TFL management plans (Figure 1);
Recreation Plans
  • recreation plans, including existing district recreation plans and regional recreation plans; 
Program Definitions
  • the recreation program definition (Chapter 1) that provides the activities and sub-activities framework for program management;
Other Plans, Strategies and
  • other plans, strategies and agreements, including interagency/stakeholder recreation plans, strategies and/or local agreements (e.g., recreation access management plans);
Definition of Basic
Recreation Program
  • the definition of the Basic Recreation Program (Figures 2a, 2b, 2c) establishes the outputs, by sub-activity, which are required to meet a minimum level of performance

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4.3.4 Basic Recreation Program

Figure 2a: Basic Recreation Program: Forest District
Figure 2b: Basic Recreation Program: Regional HQ
Figure 2c: Basic Recreation Program: Branch

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4.3.5 Formats

Suggested formats for recreation priorities and project description forms are included here: (users are advised to adapt to landscape format or 14" paper, if required).

Figure 3
Prioritized List of Recreation Projects:
Sample Form
Figure 4
Recreation Project Description:
Sample Form

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4.4 Recreation Reporting

Understanding recreation
trends in forest districts is
critical to successful


Long-term recreation data, including user statistics, and site and trail data, is important for detecting trends in outdoor recreation. Only with a clear understanding of trends can district staff develop proactive district recreation plans and provide input to both strategic and operational plans.

As part of the district recreation planning process, some of the recommended inputs include maps showing "expected use" and "current use." This type of information and mapping is greatly facilitated by the collection and maintenance of accurate use records at the district level.

District and regional recreation use data is also the best source of information for developing an overview of provincial trends in outdoor recreation use. This is essential not only for the Annual Report, required under the Ministry of Forests Act, but also for the Forest, Range and Recreation Resource Analysis (FRRRA) required by legislation every 10 years, and the annually prepared Five Year Forest and Range Program.

For example, here is a typical graph that can be generated based on district and regional data and estimates (from the 1994 FRRRA):

forest tenure administration system

Forest Tenure Administration System (FTAS)

One "tool' for recording recreation data and reporting on a district, regional or provincial scale is FTAS. FTAS was developed to capture, manage and report data about tenure activity. The data collected becomes part of the "Corporate Database."

FTAS is an "umbrella" for delivering operational functions in a co-operative computer environment. One component of FTAS deals specifically with recreation.

Using FTAS, recreation staff can record data about recreation sites, projects, facilities, usage, and work events, as well as print out reports. Data from other districts across the province can also be viewed for comparative purposes.

For up-to-date information on using FTAS, refer to the current FTAS - Recreation User Manual.


Another computer program ACCESS is being designed for the ministry to capture and report recreation site and trail information. It is hoped that this system will replace FTAS recreation over time. ACCESS-recreation has been under development for about two years. Recreation and Information Management Group (IMG) staff are working to have the program ready for release in the summer of 2001.

Recreation Use Statistics

Another computer program Recreation Use Statistics System (RUS) has been designed for the ministry to capture and report recreation site and trail usage and conditions. The data is collected from completed Visitor Records (FS969 Forms) taken from sites and trails; and from Recreation Use and Maintenance Survey Records (FS172 Forms) completed by maintenance contractors.

Corporate Accounting System (CAS)

The ministry CAS keeps up-to-date accounts on the status of ministry funding by responsibility centre, including funds approved, funds allocated (to contracts), funds spent and unspent funds.

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4.4.1 Annual Reports


Each year, the ministry must prepare an annual report documenting the expenditures and accomplishments in each of its programs. This legislative requirement is fulfilled for the recreation program by the following procedures, responsibilities and formats.

The Ministry of Forests Act includes the following direction:

Annual Report Section 10

(3) The annual report must include:

(a) a review of the forest and range program then in effect, with the following:

(i) a statement of the expenditures incurred to implement it;

(ii) an assessment of the effect it has had on the productivity of forest and range resources in BC; and

(iii) an analysis of the direct and indirect economic and social benefits and costs associated with its implementation.

Annual Report:

The procedures for developing provincial-level annual reports, in keeping with the Ministry of Forests Act, change relatively frequently in response to ministry organizational requirements and resources.

Consequently, recommended procedures consist mainly of maintaining useful data on recreation trends at the district and regional levels, using activity account numbers as the basis for recording information. In addition, recreation user data should be maintained to the extent possible, given resources and planning requirements.

This will provide districts and regions with a useful source of information on recreation facilities, use trends, budget allocations, etc. It will also provide an up-to-date source of data for the ministry annual report, as required.

Key annual report items related to recreation which have been reported in the past include:

  • # of sites, length of trails, estimates of the amount of use at sites and trails;
  • area by broad ROS groups: roaded (U, RU, RRL) and roadless areas (P, SPNM, SPM), and dispersed use estimates by group; and
  • summary of major accomplishments by activity, including reports, development projects, plans, etc.

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4.4.2 Formats

District and regional


The following content is recommended for recording and reporting of recreation information: (the suggested formats for these tables and recommended procedures are included in this chapter). As a minimum, district staff are advised to complete Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 & 9 annually.

Table 1. Staffing

Table 2. Funding (see FMIS)

Table 3. Recreation inventory (see FTAS)

Table 4. Recreation planning

Table 5. Recreation referrals

Table 6. Visual landscape management

Table 7. Backcountry/wilderness management

Table 8. Use statistics* (see below)

Table 9. Site and trail management (basic)*

Table 10. Site and trail management (detailed)*

* Tables 8, 9 and 10 report various user statistics. Forest Service staff can also generate reports through the Recreation Use Statistics System (RUS) computer program.

Recreation Use Statistics System (RUS)

RUS is a computer program providing district staff with the capability of entering, analyzing and reporting recreation site and trail Maintenance Record and Visitor Record data. (For more information refer to the current RUS manual.)

The following reports can be generated by RUS
(v. 2.0):

  • Recreation Use by Project
  • Recreation Use by Day and Month
  • Recreation Use by Origin
  • Recreation Use by Stratum
  • Recreation Site/Trail Condition
  • Recreation Site Transportation
  • Recreation Site Accommodation
  • Recreation Site Activities
  • Recreation Site/Trail Maps
Recommended Procedures:
Table 1. Staffing
  • Record the allocated person-years as the number of FTEs assigned to the recreation program by the Human Resources Plan.
  • Record the actual person-years as your estimate of the FTEs actually spent in recreation.
  • For example, an RO who was classified as a 50/50 recreation/inventory split and who spent two months fire-fighting and 30% of his remaining time in recreation would report 0.25 person-years, that is: (12 - 2) x 0.3 = 3 months = 3/12 year = 0.25.
Table 2. Funding
  • Record allocated dollars as per approved business plan.
  • Record expenditures as per year end (4th quarter) report.
Table 3. Recreation Inventory
  • Identify the number of mapsheets or partial mapsheets in the district or region managed by MoF and TFL licensees, and the number of mapsheets or partial mapsheets in each management category that have recreation inventories:

    • completed to MoF standards;
    • updated this year; and
  • digitized and (1) sent to Inventory Branch, (2) entered into the forest inventory database (IGDS), and (3) operational.

Table 4. Recreation Planning
  • Record the number of recreation plans being maintained (i.e., reviewed, updated), under development, and completed during the year. 
Table 5. Recreation Referrals
  • Record the number of recreation referrals of plans, or
    planning documents received and/or reviewed during the year.

Table 6. Visual Landscape
  • Report the number of projects worked on in each phase of visual landscape management.

Table 7. Backcountry/Wilderness
  • Report the number of activities worked on as identified in each component of backcountry/wilderness management.

  • Report the area being managed for backcountry recreation, and estimate amount and type of backcountry use.
Table 8. Use Statistics

Note: Table 8 is intended
to complement Recreation
Use Statistics (RUS)
software. RUS, however, is
the preferred means of
generating reports on use

  • Record estimates of recreation use of MoF sites (all seasons) and MoF trails (summer/winter) using FS 172, FS 969 and local experience.
  • Record estimates of concentrated use at non-project locations in provincial forests.
  • Record estimates of dispersed use (exclusive of viewing) of provincial forests.

- Record estimates of use of Provincial forests for viewing

- While traveling along major highways and water corridors or to parks and recreation sites. Use information from other agencies (e.g., Highways, Tourism, Parks) and local experience.

Table 9. Site and Trail
Management (basic)

This represents the basic form for recording recreation site and trail information.

  • Information is recorded for recreation sites, interpretive forest sites, recreation trails and heritage trails, including the following for each category:
  • number of sites, units, trails, etc;

  • kilometres of trails; and

  • number of users (summer and winter).

Table 10. Site and Trail
Management (detailed)

This represents a more detailed level of site and trail information, if time and resources permit.

  • Areas/trails not actively managed by MoF are considered non-project locations, but these areas/trails may have concentrated public recreation use.
  • Summer and winter trail use counts must not overlap. The season during which a trail is used most will determine whether it is a summer or winter trail, and how it should be recorded.
  • MoF expenditures must equal/balance those reported on the CAS (recreation accounts).
  • Non-ministry expenditures include job creation programs, volunteer works and private expenditures.
  • Where sub-total expenditures cannot be identified, record total expenditures only.

Table 10 continued: Routine Maintenance

  • The total number of sites, vehicle units, trails and kilometres maintained must equal the number reported as "active" on the Forest Tenure Administration System (FTAS-Rec). (For example, if a district has 10 sites on which only ministry staff do all the maintenance and 40 sites on which non-ministry personnel do all the maintenance, the total number of sites receiving maintenance would be recorded as 50. If ministry staff also provide some maintenance on 15 of the non-ministry maintained sites, the report would show ministry staff maintaining 25 sites and non-ministry personnel maintaining 40 sites. However, the total number of sites would still be reported as 50, since there are only 50 sites in the district that receive maintenance.) The same procedure is used in reporting the number of sites, vehicle units, trails and kilometres of trails for routine maintenance, rehabilitation and development sub-activities.
  • User-maintained sites or trails are those "active" sites or trailheads where garbage barrels are not provided at any time during the year.
  • Non-project locations and trails, as well as project sites and trails may be maintained by a combination of ministry and non-ministry organizations. The number of sites, vehicle units, trails and kilometres may not match the "active" project record information (i.e., if a site or trail receives maintenance from both ministry and non-ministry organizations, record those numbers for both but do NOT add them together for the total). The total should match the "active" FTAS-Rec information.
Rehabilitation and Development
  • Some sites and trails may be rehabilitated or developed by a combination of ministry and non-ministry organizations. Record for each organization category the number of sites and trails rehabilitated or developed and the associated expenditures. Due to some double-counting, the total number of sites and trails may not match the actual number of sites or trails rehabilitated or developed. Report the total as the actual number of sites and trails rehabilitated or developed.

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4.5 Recreation Audits

Effectiveness Audits

Under the Forest Practices Code, forest "practices," including recreation, are audited for effectiveness. The purpose of effectiveness audits is to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of legislation and policy in bringing about, on the ground, forest practices that achieve intended objectives and desired end results.

Responsibility for the development of ministry procedures and standards for recreation audits rests with the Forest Practices Branch.

Audit plans and individual audits are consistent with the ministry's quality assurance framework.

The highest priority forest practices effectiveness audits are selected in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Broad categories of forest practices, including recreation, are identified in the Ministry's Forest Practices Effectiveness Audit Procedures and Standards Manual as "audit topics."

Compliance Audits

Recreation compliance or "program" audits are a formal part of the staff monitoring function and comprise detailed examinations of accomplishments relative to the goals of a responsibility centre. Compliance audits are carried out through periodic visits that are scheduled in advance. Observations, findings, comments, data and recommendations are recorded to identify deficiencies and/or efficiencies in responsibility centre performance, policy and procedures.

The purpose of compliance audits is to assess:

  • compliance with policy, procedures and standards;
  • appropriateness of policy, procedures and standards;
  • achievements relative to ministry objectives and goals;
  • effectiveness and efficiency of activities; and
  • accuracy and reliability of information and records.

Compliance audits should not be confused with:

  • Effectiveness audits: to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of legislation and policy in bringing about, on the ground, forest practices that achieve intended objectives and desired end results.
  • Program Reviews: comprehensive, in-depth looks at broad program areas or entire programs as a basis for policy development and program redirection (Section 3.4).
  • Annual Reports: the ministry's annual reporting of program performance, and program benefits and costs to the province.
  • Employee Appraisals: personnel evaluations of employees through the ministry's Performance Management System.
Forest Practices Board

The Forest Practices Board has the authority to conduct audits and special investigations, under the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act.

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4.5.1 Procedures and Responsibilities

Effectiveness Audits

Internal MoF effectiveness audits of forest practices are carried out by the Forest Practices Branch, under the quality assurance framework.

Effectiveness audits are conducted in accordance with procedures and standards set out the ministry's Forest Practices Effectiveness Audit Procedures and Standards Manual. Annual audit plans are prepared to identify individual audit projects involving regional and district staff to ensure coordination between the audits, and monitoring and inspection activities. Audit results are documented in audit reports.

Audit locations are forest districts. Forest districts are the "hosts," not the "auditees." They serve as bases of operations, supply staff for audit teams, and provide administrative and logistical support to enable audits to be carried out.

Compliance Audits

Compliance audits at all levels will be based on:

  • established legislation, regulations, policy and procedures;
  • draft or approved resource management plans; and
  • initial or approved business plans.

Recreation program audits at all levels will be planned and conducted by determining through consultation and in advance of the audits:

  • what will be audited;
  • where and when the audit will take place; and
  • who will comprise the audit team.

District and regional programs and activities may be audited as outlined above. In the event of an audit, staff would be requested to provide whatever support and assistance may be required.

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4.6 References

Draft Policy (1996): Business Plans, Corporate Policy and Planning Branch

Forest, Range, and Recreation Resource Analysis (1994)

Ministry Policy Manual

Ministry of Forests Annual Report

Draft Forest District Recreation Planning Manual (1997), Forest Practices Branch

Draft Forest Practices Effectiveness Audit Procedures and Standards Manual (1998), Forest Practices Branch