Saturday, March 3, 2012

Carolina Connections Gets a Makeover

Earlier in the week the U.S. Forest Service National Forests in North Carolina announced that its primary source for visitor information, Carolina Connections, has undergone a facelift. The newly designed version is now available online by clicking here.

Carolina Connectionsis now an online seasonal update, in a newsletter format, that the Forest Service will publish three times a year (spring, summer and fall/winter). The free publication offers details on attractions, interesting sites and tips that forest visitors can enjoy each season. Carolina Connections is only available online and accessible from a computer, netbook, tablet or smart phone.

Maps and detailed information on camping, hiking, biking and other recreational activities will be included in a companion publication titled Guide to the National Forests in North Carolina. This recreation guide will include many of the same charts, directions, helpful hints, safety tips and other useful information found in the old version of Carolina Connections. This year, the Forest Service will print a limited number of copies of the Guide, which complements the new Carolina Connections seasonal newsletter. The agency expects to make the Guide to the National Forest in North Carolina available online in early April, with printed copies arriving in mid- to late-April. The Forest Service will update the Guide every few years.

Several factors led to the change to Carolina Connections. The streamlining of government operations is one factor. Another is the Forest Service’s effort to enhance electronic services. The agency is working to improve its website and other online services. For example, visitors to the National Forests in North Carolina can sign up to receive news and alerts by e-mail. Visit and click on “Sign up to Receive News by Email.” The email service allows the agency to quickly inform forest visitors about fires, bear encounters or other issues. The agency is also working to post GIS data online and hopes to add an interactive map function to its website.

“More and more people are using electronic devices to receive information, so the Forest Service is expanding its Internet services in order to give modern forest users information in ways they can use it,” said Stevin Westcott, public affairs officer “In the future, we will continue to print some publications, and hard copy maps will always be available at our offices. At the same time, we’ll continue to look for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs.”


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