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RFP – Visitor Use Management Study For Interim Phase Monitoring at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Updated August 2, 2022


Parks California is requesting qualifications and proposals for professional services to develop a visitor use management study and an interim phase monitoring plan to inform long-term park planning at Big Basin Redwoods State Park (SP).

The project site is located in Big Basin Redwoods SP in Boulder Creek, California, an approximately 18,000-acre park that is in the Santa Cruz Mountains, bounded between HWY 1 and 9.

Parks California anticipates entering into a contract for a Visitor Use Management (VUM) study to evaluate and suggest refinements to the Adaptive Management framework adopted in the Park’s General Plan which describes desired conditions, indicators and thresholds for managing visitor use. The study will also include an interim phase monitoring plan and evaluation of interim VUM actions including a pilot shuttle program and limited public access through a parking reservation system. Proposals should include a scope and fee for VUM study, training on monitoring approach for California State Parks (CSP) staff, and recommendations for integrating findings of the study into current CSP workflows.

Proposals are due August 18, 2022, and must be received by Parks California by 5PM (emailed, mailed or hand delivered). Please review the following information, ask any clarifying questions, and submit your proposals to:

Will Fourt, Big Basin Senior Project Planner

Parks California

303 N Big Trees Rd

Felton CA 95018



Parks California is seeking proposals from a consultant team with experience conducting VUM studies and monitoring visitor use at public parks, and has a portfolio of past VUM projects. Ideally the team will have experience working in a large recreation area similar to Big Basin Redwoods SP. Experience applying the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council VUM Framework is a plus, but not required.


Overall Project Description and Context:

Big Basin Redwoods SP is approximately 18,000 acres located in the northern hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The parcels that make up Big Basin are owned by CSP. Parks California is the statutory non- profit partner to CSP and works collaboratively with CSP on joint projects. Post-fire recovery of Big Basin Redwoods SP is a priority project for the partnership.

In August of 2020, Big Basin was dramatically changed by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. With almost all park facilities lost in the fire, there are now opportunities to plan and build a renewed park that is redesigned to increase equitable access to the park and to increase the health and resiliency of the old growth redwood forest. The vision for the renewed park is described in the Reimagining Big Basin Vision which will guide future planning efforts at the park. During the next several years, while State Parks works collaboratively to plan, design and construct the permanent park facilities, there are parts of the park that will be reopened for limited public access. During this interim period, State Parks plans to use a parking reservation system, test a pilot shuttle program, develop a visitor use management study, and deploy a monitoring plan. The pilot shuttle program and parking reservation system will be informed by a transportation study that will be conducted over the same timeframe as the visitor use management study and monitoring plan.

This request for proposals focuses on creating a visitor use management study and monitoring plan for the interim re-opening phase of the park. The project will refine and operationalize an existing adaptive management framework for visitor use management, pilot a monitoring approach to track indicators, and collect initial data as the pilot shuttle program and parking reservation system are activated.

The information gathered from this process will be used to inform ongoing future monitoring and visitor use management decisions at Big Basin Redwoods SP, as well as other state park units. Through this process, we seek to identify monitoring methods that are highly replicable, low maintenance, and easy to conduct and utilize to inform management decisions by CSP staff.

Project Goals:

  • Apply Interagency Visitor Use Management Council (IVUMC) Visitor Use Management Framework guidance to refine Big Basin Redwoods SP’s existing adaptive management framework.
  • Develop Desired Conditions and define Indicators and Thresholds for each of the four planning zone areas (Old Growth, Backcountry, Saddle Mountain and Rancho del Oso) based on existing conditions and desired outcomes for natural resources and equitable park access.
  • Work with park stakeholders to inform and develop appropriate desired conditions, indicators and monitoring programs that are most important for park user experience and consider related impacts from park use.
  • Design and implement a monitoring program to operationalize the adaptive management approach. Use the monitoring program to test monitoring protocols and assess baseline conditions and travel patterns, visitor use, equitable access, visitor experience, and natural resource conditions in four planning zones of Big Basin Redwoods SP during the interim re-opening phase in 2023.
  • Identify and implement replicable, low-effort monitoring approaches that can be used by other state park units that are piloting parking reservation systems or shuttle programs. Provide training on monitoring approach.
  • Provide statewide recommendations and training for operationalizing VUM frameworks and adaptive management approaches to other park units.

Work Completed to Date:

  • Vision Summary: In 2022, California State Parks worked with PlaceWorks to create a Vision Document which highlighted the vision for the reimagined park with renewed facilities and full public access, to be pursued through future planning projects. This document can be found in the attachment section of this Request for Proposal.
  • Cornerstone Document: In 2022, California State Parks is working with PlaceWorks to prepare a Cornerstone Document. This foundational document will highlight planning gaps and studies needed to implement the vision proposed in the Vision Document.
  • Interim Park Plans: In an effort to reopen Big Basin, California State Parks has installed temporary improvements and facilities to allow for limited visitation. CSP will develop plans to provide a pilot shuttle program to allow visitors to park at Saddle Mountain and be transported via a shuttle 2.8 miles to the old growth former park headquarters area. The concept planning for the interim phase is underway and these plans will be made available when designing the visitor use monitoring plan.
  • General Plan: In 2013 the State Park and Recreation Commission unanimously approved the General Plan for Big Basin Redwoods SP. The general plan discusses managing visitor use capacity in Chapter 4.6 and outlines California State Parks’ methodology in monitoring baseline conditions, evaluating desired outcomes, creating indicators, and adaptive management. This document can be found in the attachments section of this Request for Proposal.
  • Transportation Study: A transportation study will be run at the same time as the interim visitor use management study and monitoring plan. This study will include vehicle counts during summer 2022 that can be shared with the visitor use management consultants once completed. Data will include total daily vehicles traveling through the park on Highway 236.

Proposed Project Description for Visitor Use Management Study:

The proposed project will include the following components:

  • Refined Adaptive Management Framework: Refine the existing adaptive management approach described in the Big Basin Redwoods SP General Plan, using guidance from the IVUMC VUM Framework (listed in attachments section). Update the desired outcomes listed in the General Plan for each of the four planning zone areas (Old Growth, Saddle Mountain, Backcountry, and Rancho del Oso) based on existing post-fire conditions, resource goals and goals for equitable park access. Develop list of desired conditions and a minimal set of indicators, identify associated thresholds, and adaptive management strategies that will occur when/if thresholds are triggered.
  • Stakeholder Outreach: Based on key issues to be monitored in the adaptive management framework for interim park use within the four park zones, facilitate stakeholder engagement to inform the VUM framework and program. CSP staff will help identify stakeholders and consultant will design and lead stakeholder engagement process. Stakeholders may include trail user groups, partner organizations, environmental organizations, and local community groups.
  • Visitor Use Management Monitoring: Develop a monitoring plan based on the set of indicators and thresholds established in the Refined Adaptive Management Framework. Implement the monitoring plan in Spring – Fall 2023 to gain initial information about how visitor use from the pilot shuttle program, parking reservation system and general park use affect desired conditions. Develop protocols, complete field surveys, and install monitoring equipment. Consider existing monitoring programs and feasibility of CSP staff and volunteers continuing the monitoring program in future years.
  • Visitor Use Management Report: Summarize and analyze monitoring results in a final report that includes key findings, analysis of park users and equity of access, highlights data gaps and recommends next steps for continued adaptive management.
  • Statewide Recommendations: Using lessons learned from Big Basin Redwoods SP VUM Monitoring Report and other relevant case studies, provide 2 trainings and a brief report that packages training materials and recommendations for how to operationalize a streamlined monitoring program for other state park units. The training goals will be identified with CSP staff as the project progresses.  One training will be provided in-person to Big Basin Redwoods SP staff and will train staff on the finalized monitoring approach. One training will be provided virtually to statewide planners and other District staff (up to 30 people) to share transferable lessons learned from Big Basin Redwoods SP. This may include suggested approaches for applying and operationalizing VUM/adaptative management frameworks at park units, monitoring methodology, equipment or data sources, analytics software that can measure common VUM indicator (such as visitor duration, point of origin, parking space occupancy, etc.), decision-making frameworks, etc. that can be adopted and customized in a park unit context.


Bidders are encouraged to create their own scope of work and use the one below as a rough outline of what Parks California is looking for.

Task 1: Developing Desired Conditions, Defining Indicators and Thresholds, and Design Monitoring Program (Fall 2022 – Winter 2023)

1.1  Assemble California State Parks (CSP) project team: In coordination with CSP project manager, develop plan to involve key staff from the Santa Cruz District in developing program for Big Basin Redwoods SP throughout the project. The project team will also include CSP staff from the Planning Division and Natural Resources Division. Consultant shall facilitate a series of team meetings with staff from Parks California, CSP Santa Cruz District staff, and CSP management staff to develop appropriate desired conditions, indicators and thresholds and monitoring programs for the project. The team is expected to be approximately 12 people. It will be possible to convene a smaller working group of more involved staff if needed in addition to the larger team meetings. CSP will assemble and schedule meetings with the group, but Consultant shall develop plan for involving team, propose a schedule and number of meetings with specific meeting goals, prepare meeting materials, facilitate meetings and provide summaries of team meetings. Meetings should be held in person if possible, but as an alternative meetings can be held via video conference.

1.2  Review analysis area: Review Old Growth, Rancho del Oso, Backcountry, and Saddle Mountain planning zone purposes as described in the General Plan. Also review interim phase management direction and project issues. Identify key areas of interest, key modes of travel for interim phase, and previously developed goals and desired conditions for the area.

1.3  Refine key study questions: Review General Plan, Cornerstone Document, Reimagining Big Basin Visioning documents, and Transportation Assessment and Pilot Shuttle Study. Coordinate with CSP project team to identify key study questions to evaluate during interim phase as a part of the Visitor Use Management Study. This may include specific questions related to parking reservation system, pilot shuttle program, equitable access, natural resource management, etc.

1.4  Engage Stakeholders: Design and implement a stakeholder engagement process to inform the VUM study and to develop appropriate desired conditions and indicators that are effective in monitoring visitor experience and related impacts. CSP will help identify stakeholder groups and consultant will design and lead engagement process with groups such as trail users, local community representatives and organizations, partnering organizations and environmental groups. Design and lead engagement process with up to eight stakeholder groups, including preliminary outreach and follow-up at the end of the project sharing results. Note CSP will simultaneously be engaging stakeholders related to planning long-term facilities at the park and coordination between stakeholder engagement efforts will be required.

1.5  Conduct assessment of existing monitoring information and CSP protocols: Compile, collect, and summarize existing monitoring goals, protocols, and datasets currently managed by CSP both at Big Basin Redwoods SP and District wide. Identify what additional data is collected regionally to evaluate pilot program (i.e., Santa Cruz Metro bus ridership data to Big Basin, volunteer monitoring programs).

1.6 Refine Adaptive Management Approach and Design monitoring program: Review and refine Big Basin Redwoods SP adaptive management approach, using guidance from the IVUMC VUM Framework. Identify minimal number of indicators to evaluate desired conditions, identify associated measurable thresholds and adaptive management strategies that will occur when/if thresholds are triggered. Considering existing monitoring programs, identify appropriate monitoring protocols and equipment, and capture additional qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate pilot shuttle program and parking reservation system. A reference to a set of indicators can be found in the General Plan in the attached documents.

Task 2: Implement Baseline and Peak Season Monitoring (Spring 2023-Fall 2023)

2.1 Baseline assessment: Install, conduct and manage a limited monitoring program in Spring 2023 as a baseline assessment to identify where current conditions are in relationship to the identified indicators, to be used to refine measures and monitoring locations for peak season. Consultant shall provide all staff, equipment, installation, maintenance, and monitoring for the monitoring period, and complete all field and visitor surveys as part of the monitoring program.

2.2 Baseline assessment data analysis and recommendations: Produce report with baseline assessment results to inform peak season monitoring approach.

2.3 Finalize peak season monitoring program approach: Refine the monitoring program for deployment during the peak summer season.

2.4 Monitoring Protocol: Finalize monitoring protocols and provide staff training on monitoring installation, maintenance, and analysis.

2.5 Implement monitoring program for 2023 Peak Season: Install and manage monitoring campaign in 2023 peak season. Consultant shall provide all staff, equipment, installation, maintenance, and monitoring, and complete all field and visitor surveys as part of the monitoring program.

Task 3: Final Report and Recommendations (Fall 2023)

3.1 Visitor Use Management Report: Produce report for the four planning zones that summarizes results according to identified desired conditions and indicators, and provides recommendations for future monitoring, adaptive management, and long-term planning considerations.

3.2 Share Findings: As needed, share findings with stakeholder groups that have been engaged in the process, including providing information and summary tailored for specific stakeholder groups and follow-up meetings if necessary.

3.3  Statewide Recommendations + Training: Develop statewide recommendations for streamlined monitoring approaches to be helpful in developing monitoring programs and VUM frameworks for other state parks, including implementation considerations (based on input from State Parks staff). Statewide recommendations should include recommended flow chart for developing a realistic monitoring program based on the typical State Parks adaptive management approach described in General Plans for most park units, which are similar to the framework included in the Big Basin General Plan in Section 4.6. Training materials should include information to determine critical monitoring indicators based on the framework, and examples of feasible monitoring tools that could be used to monitor typical indicators that would apply to multiple parks (e.g. trail use, visitor experience).   Training materials should be packaged into brief report that summarizes recommendations.

The Following Deliverables will be expected for the visitor use management study:

  • Refined Adaptive Management Approach and Monitoring Program Summary, including refined Study Questions, Desired Conditions for each area, Indicators, Thresholds, and monitoring protocols.
  • Monitoring Results, including complete data results from monitoring over the 2023 season and data analysis methodologies
  • Visitor Use Management Monitoring Report, including summary of monitoring data, recommended Adaptive Management actions, recommended next steps to continue monitoring visitor use at Big Basin.
  • Statewide Recommendations, including summary that can be applicable to other pre-identified state park units that are considering parking reservation systems/shuttle programs and recommendations for streamlined monitoring program development to operationalize VUM frameworks and adaptive management approaches.


For the contract, Parks California anticipates allocating a budget of approximately $100,000-$200,000.


There is no page limit for proposals but the review panel will expect the project understanding and approach section to be less than five pages. Proposals should include the following four sections:

    1. Team Description: including description of all sub-consultants
    2. Project Understanding and Approach: Describe the team’s understanding of the project and the underlying questions that this study will answer.
    3. Scope of Work: including detailed breakdown of tasks
    4. Fee: including detailed breakdown of tasks, including any tasks identified as optional and/or clearly defining any tasks such as additional stakeholder meetings to be provided on an as-needed basis.Note: it may be possible to arrange with CSP for consultant staff collecting data to camp temporarily at a site within the park or nearby while completing data collection. This would be determined during the contract negotiation with a selected consultant. Proposed fee may list local accommodation as separate line, as a negotiable item, and indicate that camping would be preferred if possible.
    5. Qualifications: including descriptions of a minimum of three projects of similar size and nature identifying team members and roles and a reference contact information for each project and resumes for each key team member.


Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee consisting of three to five staff members from Parks California and CSP. The following criteria will be used to evaluate proposals according to the indicated percentages representing relative importance of each category:

  1.  Quality of Proposal (20%)
    • demonstrate an understanding of the project and context of how to successfully leverage monitoring of interim use at Big Basin Redwoods
    • consistency with outlined objectives
    • overall presentation
  2.  Project Approach (30%)
    • Organization, structure, and responsibilities of the project team will sufficiently serve the project needs and satisfy proposal requirements describe in this RFP 3.
    • Approach to project demonstrates efficient use of state park staff and limited resources to plan and implement an effective long-term monitoring program
  3. Qualifications (20%)
    • Background, experience, and expertise of team, including any subconsultants, on similar projects, including clarity of team members’ role in projects.
    • Demonstrated experience in visitor use management studies, familiarity and experience with the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council framework is a plus.
    • Demonstrated experience with large, outdoor recreational facilities and resources
    • Demonstrated ability to complete services within budget and on time
  4. Project management approach (10%)
  5. Cost (20%)
    • Fee proposal and any proposed strategies to reduce costs
    • Overall value of the proposed monitoring outcomes in consideration of the proposed fee


July 18: RFP sent to potential consultants
August 1: Deadline for Questions related to RFP
August 2: Updated RFP sent to potential consultants
August 18: Deadline for proposals in response to RFP
September 2: Notify consultants regarding selection OR schedule interviews if determined necessary


  1. Big Basin General Plan:
  2. ”Visitor Use Management Framework” from Interagency Visitor Use Management Council
  3. Big Basin Vision Summary by PlaceWorks:Vision Summary | Reimagining Big Basin
  4. Map of Interim Use at Big Basin as of July 22, 2022:


Parks California recognizes that every project has a unique purpose and structure and that costs vary depending on many factors. As a result, we intend for organizations to take the lead in determining how best to allocate dollars to direct and indirect costs for grants and contracts. We do not define what should be considered a direct or indirect cost. By taking this approach, we hope proposals reflect your actual direct and indirect costs. Below, we provide guidance for specific types of organizations:

Colleges, Universities, and Government agencies: 

For maximum efficiency of limited resources, it is Parks California’s policy to fund indirect or overhead costs up to 15% of the approved project amount.

Nonprofit organizations: 

Parks California does not employ a fixed minimum or maximum rate for indirect costs. We encourage you to submit an indirect cost request that is a fair and reasonable estimate of indirect costs related to the total project funds requested. Project budgets are evaluated within the totality of the application.

For-profit organizations (grants only):

Parks California does not employ a fixed minimum or maximum rate for indirect costs. The U.S. tax code requires that any grant funds awarded to a for-profit organization be dedicated to accomplishing a charitable, educational, or scientific purpose. The indirect cost estimate from for-profit organizations should reasonably and transparently reflect all indirect costs attributable to the charitable purpose of the grant, but only those specifically attributable to that purpose.