Complexity and Perspective
Reviewing the Program's progress in terms of these fifteen issues has made it clear that simple quantitative measures of program success cannot fully capture the diversity, accomplishments or challenges within the collection. The evaluation of the Program's success and the collection's quality can be affected by perspective and context in several ways:
- The concept of "quality" takes on different meanings depending on whether one looks at the America's Byways® collection or at each individual byway. At the local level a concern for "quality" suggests that every designated byway should meet a certain standard. In contrast, at the national level it can mean that the collection as whole constitutes a high-quality tourism product regardless of variations at the local level.
- Program outcomes must be always measured against identified goals. The explicit goals of the National Scenic Byways Program are to identify, protect and promote the intrinsic qualities along routes with regional and national significance. However, there may also be an implicit goal for the America's Byways® collection to represent the diversity of the nation's regions, landscapes, history and culture.
- Careful consideration in this study of the Program's six "intrinsic qualities" has led to the concept of combining these often overlapping categories into two more fundamental groupings: "Land" (based on scenic, natural or recreational intrinsic qualities) and "People" (associated with historic, cultural and archaeological qualities). These two groupings have different characteristics in terms of physical and environmental features, resource protection, interpretation and marketing; and these differences result in different needs and methods to evaluate land-based byways vs. people-based byways.
- States, Indian tribes, and local communities that choose to participate in this voluntary program have their own local needs, level of commitment, and available resources. To achieve any goals for the national collection, the Program must continue to attract State, Indian tribe and local participation while recognizing the varying local needs, commitment, and resources.
The above points illustrate the complexity of the Program and the challenge of defining quality in order to sustain and enhance the collection.