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Monitoring surveys allow managers to document system status and provide the quantitative basis for management decision-making, and large amounts of effort and funding are devoted to monitoring. Still, monitoring surveys often fall short of providing required information; inadequacies exist in survey designs, analyses procedures, or in the ability to integrate the information into an appropriate evaluation of management actions. We describe current uses of monitoring data, provide our perspective on the value and limitations of current approaches to monitoring, and set the stage for 3 papers that discuss current goals and implementation of monitoring programs. These papers were derived from presentations at a symposium at The Wildlife Society's 13th Annual Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, USA.