The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation held its 7th annual Outdoor Recreation Summit at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah Aug. 25-26. For the first time, the Summit was also live-streamed. The theme for the Summit was Outdoors Together.

Close to 400 attendees participated in the Summit, both in-person and virtually, including more than a dozen from out-of-state and from Canada. It’s the largest state-sponsored Summit in the country. The Summit was organized by America’s first state office of outdoor recreation.

The Summit helped bridge the gap between economic development, policy, planning, health, education, diversity and inclusion, and industry. It featured education, collaboration, and a shared vision for the future of recreation opportunities.

The Summit began with two live, virtual panels and in-person activities, including the Utah Trails Forum, paddleboarding, a Mobile Active Transportation Tour (walking and e-biking), a workshop on mindfulness, and dinner at the new Timpanogos Cave National Monument visitor center.

“This year’s Summit was a fantastic event, and it felt great to see a few outdoor recreation leaders in person,” said Pitt Grewe, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. “The discussions around inclusivity and how we all can work to be stewards, mentors, and friends to all the new users and faces we see outdoors really affirms how Utah is leading the nation in prioritizing outdoor recreation for all.”

A few of the speakers for the Summit included Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Alex Adema, CEO of DPS Skis, Bekee Hotze, district ranger at the USDA Forest Service, Maria Estrada, deputy director to the chief diversity and inclusion officer at The Nature Conservancy, and Stacy Bare, founder of Adventure United. 

In-person sessions included panel discussions about ‘Surviving COVID-19,’ ‘Campfire Stories: Tales of Diversity from the Outdoor Industry,’ and ‘Being Outdoors Together.’ 

Virtually, over 35 sessions were made available to those who registered. The sessions will remain online until the end of the year. Topics included ‘Navigating Permits, Pictures & Procedures,’ ‘Business Development Using Outdoor Recreation,’ ‘Outdoor Recreation’s Role in the Healthcare Continuum,’ and ‘Every Kid Outdoors.’ More than 110 panelists and moderators participated in these sessions. The sessions are password-protected, but registration is still available to view all of the content.

Several awards were presented to local companies and individuals to recognize their impacts in the outdoor industry. The Stewardship Award was given to the Jordan River Commission for its work in preserving and restoring open space to create a 50-mile linear park and nature preserve. 

The Economic Impact Award was presented to the Outdoor Product Design & Development Program at Utah State University. Students from this program have gone on to contribute to the industry by executing design challenges, leading projects, and forming collaborations with Utah companies like Barebones Living, Black Diamond, Browning, Backcountry, Cotopaxi, ICON Fitness, Klymit, and more. 

The Every Kid Outdoor Award was presented to Get Outside. Through local high school clubs in Utah, Get Outside plans events, educates youth about the outdoors, and recruits youth to participate. In 18 months, Get Outside provided opportunities for more than 500 youth and a few parents to participate in an array of outdoor recreation activities. Get Outside works to help youth and families overcome three main barriers to outdoor recreation: lack of funding, lack of education, and lack of opportunity.

The Social Investment Award was given to DPS Skis. With the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak — and with the collaborative support of three other brand partners, including Utah-based Petzl America and Goal Zero — DPS was able to rapidly pivot production to create protective face shields for the medical community to fulfill orders in partnership with the Utah Department of Health. In total, there are currently over 80,000 shields being built to support the regional effort. Shields have also been sent to the Navajo Nation in Southern Utah, the Salt Lake City Rescue Mission, numerous regional hospitals, Utah Naval Reserve doctors, and other groups in urgent need of PPE.

The Outdoor Together Award, given to businesses or organizations that have gone above and beyond to collaborate and help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, was presented to several companies and organizations: Canyon Country Discovery Center, Coalatree, Elevated Mountain Guides, SOS Outreach, St. George City, Stokes Nature Center, Utah Motorsports Campus, and Utah State Parks.

The Bridger Bike Park in Logan was given the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant Project of the Year. The park is one of the latest successes made possible through Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant funding. It is the realization of a long-stated dream to create a place for bike riders to recreate without the conflicts inherent in sharing a concrete skate park or other shared recreation and transportation spaces.  

GOED Executive Director Val Hale, who, after more than six years at GOED, plans to retire at the end of the year, also received recognition for his outdoor industry leadership.

The Summit ended with a volunteer activity, thanks to Provo City Parks & Recreation. This year volunteers helped clean up a section of the Provo River Trail. Volunteers clipped back underbrush growing over the trail and picked up garbage.

The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation invites you to plan now to join next year’s Summit. More information will be available soon at utahoutdoorsummit.com.