The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation held its 6th annual Outdoor Recreation Summit at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George, Utah Oct. 22 to 24. The theme for the Summit was Roots & Routes: Preserving Our Past and Forging Our Future. 

Almost 500 attendees participated in the Summit, which was a record-breaking year thanks to passionate people and key sponsors like Intermountain Healthcare, Zions Bank, Fluid Communications and REI.

The Summit helped bridge the gap between economic development, policy, planning and health through education, collaboration and a shared vision for the future of recreation opportunities in Utah.

“Whenever we move the Utah Outdoor Summit off the Wasatch Front, we know there’s a chance of reduced attendance. But that wasn’t the case this year,” says Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. “With nearly 500 attendees from around the country, the Summit was the ideal place to celebrate our past and plan the routes of our future.”

Speakers for the Summit included Tom Adams, David Vela, acting director at the National Park Service, Michiko Martin, director of recreation at the U.S. Forest Service, and Mike and Lilliana Libecki from National Geographic, and more. 

Participants celebrated 100 years of Zion National Park with superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh and Kevin Lewis from Greater Zion and Kasey Jones with the Zion Forever Project (ZFP). ZFP also launched a special showing of a new video that will be shown at Zion National Park starting in November. Multiple versions of the video will be created, one for the visitors center and an extended version that will tour the country with national film festivals. Participants also learned about a proposal for an East Zion Visitor Center, which is being planned as a public-private partnership to enhance the visitor experience.

The workshops left participants with action items for the future. However, attendees could participate in service projects that have an immediate impact on the community. This year, Red Rock Bicycle Company was a Summit partner, organizing a canyon clean up in Cove Wash trail where Summit volunteers removed a full dumpster of trash. Additionally, Summit business partner St. George Bicycle Collective helped volunteers build 14 bikes for kids just in time for the holidays.

The National Governors Association joined the Summit on its last day to gather 23 states as part of a newly launched Outdoor Recreation Learning Network. Participants witnessed a signing ceremony conducted by NGA and outdoor recreation leaders from Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia. On behalf of their governors, these leaders committed to advance the principles contained in the Outdoor Recreation Industry Confluence Accords. The signing by the new states brings the total number of states who have signed the Accords to a historic 13.

The Confluence Accords embody 10 principles contained in the four pillars of conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, economic development, and public health and wellness. They were developed in 2018 by the Confluence of States, a bipartisan group of eight trailblazing states, including Utah, to promote and advance best practices for all states to consider.

Please plan to join us for next year’s Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit Aug. 25 to 27 in Orem, Utah, at the Utah Valley Convention Center.