Business Elevated Podcast (Episode 39)
This podcast series features business and government leaders discussing what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. This episode includes a conversation between Pitt Grewe, the director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, and Stacy Bare, founder of Adventure United, while on a hike at Alta ski resort.
Welcome to the Business Elevated Podcast, where we discuss what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. Did you know Utah is frequently ranked the best state for business by Forbes? This podcast is a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Pitt Grewe: (0:20) This is Pitt Grewe, the director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. We are up at Alta ski resort today on a little hike.
It’s a Monday night, and I’m here with Stacy Bare, the founder of Adventure United. He is a keynote speaker at the Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit this year. He also speaks on a panel about the healthcare continuum in the outdoors, and where he sees that going. I was excited to hear from Stacy, but we wanted to come out, and I just wanted to talk to him a little bit about the Summit, the importance of it and how it can make a difference for the state of Utah, and for all the people that attend and participate in these important discussions that are happening.
On a side note, Stacy is a longtime friend. We’ve known each other in the industry for quite a few years. We’ve been on a few adventures together. If that wasn’t enough, Stacy decided to move into my neighborhood a few years ago. Where, of course, our outdoor adventures have shifted to dog walks and kids jumping on the tramp while we chat about important issues and smile at our kids. It is still great to get out with him today, up in the mountains of the Wasatch, enjoy relief from the 102 degrees down in the valley, and watch the sunset up here at Alta ski resort.
Stacy, thanks for coming out.
Stacy Bare: (1:44) It’s awesome to be here, Pitt. As is often the case with outdoor adventures, when you fit them in around your family and work schedule, you do a lot of dawn patrols and a lot of dusk patrols this continues with our outdoor bromance here because it’s a beautiful night, and we’ll get to see a beautiful sunset to add to all the other beautiful sunrises we’ve seen together.
Pitt Grewe: (2:07) As you hear us we are hiking and recreating as we speak because nobody wants to sit and stare at each other, we’ve done enough of that over the last few months. It’s better for us to get out and recreate, have a conversation on the trail. As you hear us breathing heavy, that’s just a couple of dads getting some exercise.
Stacy Bare: (2:25) The wildflowers are staying around; I feel longer than usual this season. It is so beautiful up here.
Pitt Grewe: (2:32) It is a gorgeous night. Stacy, just a couple of questions for you as a little teaser to the Summit. Talking about what’s coming up next week for those who don’t know the Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit is Aug. 25th and 26th. It’s virtual and in-person, so a few people attend in-person but mostly virtual. You’ll be able to consume all those great content, and all these talks and great panels over 35 panels of people that are speaking on subjects ranging every topic in the outdoors. Be sure to check out utahoutdoorsummit.com and find out more about that. Stacy, what I want to know is tell me your most memorable outdoor recreation experience.
Stacy Bare: (3:16) That is a big question. I have been very fortunate to have a lot of great outdoor opportunities and outdoor recreation everything from when I first got out of the Army. I got home from Baghdad in 2007, and I spent 12 days surfing the Garden Coast in South Africa. Then I kind of went away from the outdoors for a couple of years. My buddy got me out climbing for the first time when I was almost 31 in Boulder. That was a huge moment. I’ve been able to go back and climb and ski in places I’ve been to war. I got to ski with a couple of friends in Iraq. In Northern Iraq two winters ago, I got to ski in Afghanistan, which was awesome. We’re making a film about that. That’ll hopefully come out this fall. I got to climate Angola with Alex Honnold. That was a hilarious experience. I’ve gotten to do a lot of really cool stuff. You know, going back to what you’re saying with being dads this morning, I hiked Donut Falls with my four-year-old.
Pitt Grewe: (4:26) There’s a deer that just jumped out right in front of us.
Stacy Bare: (4:28) Yeah, and we’ve seen deer. We saw bull moose. We saw a paraglider. Awesome. But this morning, out with my little one, she was climbing, and I offered her my hand, which she’s wanted to use for all these years to climb stuff, and she said ‘don’t worry daddy I got it.’ That was a pretty special moment this morning, just watching her get more confident in the outdoors and her wanting to climb and her wanting to ski and her talking ‘I want to climb mountains with you,’ ‘I want to go to Kyrgyzstan and ski with you and meet your friends there.’ I think that has probably been the most fun I’ve had outdoors.
I love big adventures and big epics. Two of my favorite places in the whole world are here in Utah. You know it’s the stretch of the Yampa River in Utah. Gates of Lodore on the Green River. Love going down south. It’s hard to pick just one, but I think right now, it’s just watching my little one come into her own in the outdoors and want to explore. Last week we took a hike midweek and went up into the Uintas. On the way back stopped at Provo Falls. She just took off on her own and hiked up the Provo Falls. She felt so big, and like such a big adventure. That was pretty amazing to see. Another deer on the trail right in front of us. Two of them.
Pitt Grewe: (6:10) Three of them. A lot of deer.
Stacy Bare: (6:12) Oh wow.
Pitt Grewe: (6:14) Yeah, I can agree with you on that one, Stacy. You know, I think of all the adventures I’ve had in the outdoors and great ski trips, river trips and everything else. I still enjoy those and look for those every day. The little things of getting my kids outside seeing them climb for the first time right. A mountain bike trail. Skiing, of course. All of that is a fantastic experience. I think it gets me more excited about recreating with my family, friends and close associates, seeing that my kids are doing it and carrying that on. I’ve known you for a long time, Stacy. I know that our conversations can wander, and when we don’t necessarily want everybody to wander with us in this conversation.
Stacy Bare: (7:03) Nope, nobody wants to hear that except for maybe Dustin. I don’t even I don’t think Dustin wants to hear it.
Pitt Grewe: (7:09) Yeah, they can wander far. What I want you to do is give me a two-minute answer, which will be tough. A two-minute answer of how outdoor recreation is changing the life and culture of people in America.
Stacy Bare: (7:20) That’s the question I think we all want to answer right now, especially with the pandemic, and we’ve seen surges. People are getting outside. The bike industry is having a record year. Fly-fishing is having a record year. Paragliding is having a record year. These people want to get outside and experience the outdoors. Many times for the first time again, or the first time again in a long while.
I think long-term if we continue this trend, and we can turn all of these new and renewed outdoor users into passionate advocates for their spaces. I think it’s going to mean a healthier America. A new economic sector that we’ve been aware of for a long time. People are paying attention to the outdoor industry and outdoor recreation. I think it has a lot of upside for people taking care of the planet and taking care of themselves. Those two things go hand in hand. When they’re done, we will see an improved economy, improved and healthier, happier people. That’s what I’m excited about. Despite all the noise in America right now, there’s a lot of things that create a lot of anxiety and a lot of concern. All very justified for a lot of people, if not everyone. There’s this undercurrent and positivity that America can continue to be a beautiful place in the outdoors. We can realize our greatest potential.
Pitt Grewe: (8:59) That’s the best answer I’ve heard. Thanks for that. I’m not even going to add anything. So talking about the Summit, the theme this year is ‘Outdoors Together’, this is something that came up even last summer before the pandemic. Social injustice talks around the news, and all of these things that have happened in the last few months outdoors together has always been a really important topic, especially for our office. We encouraged people to get outside. Encouraged kids to get kids outside, for people to experience nature and recreation healthily and successfully. What does it mean to you for people to be outdoors together?
Stacy Bare: (9:41) When the topic was selected for the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be living in the state of Utah since Brad first took the first national office of outdoor recreation. Under his leadership, and then Tom’s leadership, and now your leadership. I’ve been thinking a lot about that for several years.
A few key points recognize it. I think one is to recognize that the outdoors in nature doesn’t care who you are. Coming out into nature should be restorative for all people, regardless of what their background is. Culturally, racially, their gender background, where they’re from, or their economic situation. None of that should matter when you go outside. If we’re really serious about being outdoors together, those of us who work in the industry, those of us who are spending time outside, are making transportation decisions, and planning decisions. We’ve got to make sure that the outdoors can live up to that promise. I think to be outdoors, especially those of us who are long time outdoor users and recreational nests; we have to recognize the pill that we have for being out here and help leverage that privilege.
Regardless of race, regardless of identity, you feel comfortable in the outdoors. My friend Grace Anderson, who’s a black cyclist amongst other things said, ‘you know, bicycles aren’t racist, but many cyclists are.’ Often, we don’t even realize that our actions are creating a hostile environment for people who aren’t bearded white guys in plaid, which is exactly who I am. I think outdoors for all, we’ve got to focus on our community. Make sure we’re welcoming, but also that we’re growing the table and inviting other people to help define the future of outdoor recreation and outdoor conservation. I don’t think it looks like what maybe you and I imagined it to be unless we bring in all people.
I think in the state of Utah, that translates down to some actionable items. It translates down to long time residents of San Juan County, native or not, having access and opportunity and education around mountain biking, climbing, hiking and backpacking. We see in a place like San Juan, and other counties like it throughout the state of Utah, there’s one version of outdoor recreation that comes into the county. There’s one version of outdoor recreation and land use that lives in the county. Those two things often feel like they’re at loggerheads, and they shouldn’t be, they don’t need to be. Outdoors for all. We’ve got to figure out what education looks like to bring everybody together so that the outdoors, and those conversations, are inspirational, not angry.
The second thing that means is in a place like Salt Lake County and on the Wasatch Front, we have to make sure folks in West Valley feel like the Wasatch is theirs, and that they know how to access the Wasatch. Maybe that means we need to work more around bonds or payouts down the line so that we have more foot traffic and trails into the Oquirrhs. Often, we look out at the Oquirrhs, and that’s just kind of a forgotten range that’s so close. I think looking at ourselves and saying if you don’t look like the current majority demographic in the state of Utah, meaning if you’re not nominally white and straight, how do we welcome you into the trails and then the outdoors in a way that you feel comfortable in front and backcountry environments. It’s been really exciting to see the Office of Outdoor Recreation engage in these issues. The first thing the Office of Outdoor Recreation has to do in the current situation is to prove the economic case and the health case for why this is beneficial to the state. I think those numbers are becoming more and more self-evident and only get bolstered and will only grow when we address those other three.
Pitt Grewe: (14:20) Thanks, Stacy. There’s so much to work on within the state of Utah, and how we see the benefits of outdoor recreation translated into every aspect of our life. I think that’s one of the roles we have here. Not just seeing outdoor recreation is a vehicle of tourism. We do not just see outdoor recreation as a way to get your kids out to ski the ski resorts on the weekend right; there are so many different aspects of it, whether it’s restorative for wellness or quality of life, economic development and opportunities to get people to work. To give them jobs to build outdoor recreation infrastructure and access to our public lands and everything else. There are so many aspects of it that play an important role here in Utah.
Stacy Bare: (15:15) We see so many companies relocating to the state of Utah. It’s such a vibrant entrepreneurial community in the state of Utah because of outdoor recreation opportunities. We have a couple of great healthcare systems that are Utah-based. We got some large banks here in Utah, which are Utah-based. You know many banks put a dollar in the bank about 90 cents out of every dollar you put in a bank; it’s invested somewhere. You pay your insurance premiums, and those get invested somewhere. I think we need to work with the banks and the insurance companies and say what are you doing to invest in the people in the ecosystem that creates a healthy, vibrant, strong Utah. Healthy, vibrant, strong Utah with both economy and people. I think that means investing in access. Investing in wild spaces, investing in mild spaces that are outdoors and landscapes so that when you’re walking out of the bank, when you’re walking out of the hospital, when you’re walking out of a school, when you’re sitting there waiting for UTA, that all of those things operate and act as trailheads so that you can see wherever you are, you have an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it’s a pocket park in Sugar House, and the Uintas, to one of our big five national parks, to our gems that are state parks. Gems that you know around the world, like the Uintas, is a perfect place. I brought visitors into the Uintas, and they’re like, are we in a national park? I love that. They think you know that being a national park is the highest value right of outdoor experience. Rather than get into the politics as to why you went to a national park, I just say yeah, because for them, that means we are in a sacred place. Are we in a place that’s gorgeous? And it’s like yes we are. I want to validate that for people when they come to Utah.
Pitt Grewe: (17:09) All right, so, why should people sign up for the Summit, and what do you think they can learn from this?
Stacy Bare: (17:17) I think year-after- year what the Summit does a great job of bringing together a lot of the experts in the field. Not just experts, but community members and outspoken advocates, and people who are maybe just started their journey in the outdoors. It allows people to hear from those multiple perspectives from the economic side, from the health side, from the land-use side, the recreation side, the management side, and it’s all in one place. Any questions you have, whether it’s around justice equity, inclusivity work in the outdoors, to economic benefits of an acre saved or an acre conserved, or Parkland, that’s available at the outdoor Summit. People should take the time, regardless of what industry they’re in, regardless of where they’re working. I think the great thing is now everybody is going to have access to this online. Think about it, read it, get inspired, and see where your place might be in Utah for engaging and continuing to grow our outdoor user base and economy.
Pitt Grewe: (18:23) ‘Hello’ – First visitors we’ve seen on the trail. It’s a really quiet evening up here at Alta.
Stacy Bare: (18:29) Always quiet.
Pitt Grewe: (18:31) We’re just overlooking the waterfall here coming down the Snake Pit Gully if you’re familiar with skiing Alta. Nice little quiet place. You can hear the wind blowing, probably into the microphone now to prove that we’re outside.
Last question Stacy, and again I just want to thank you for coming out tonight and being able to chat a little bit. If I was offering you one adventure to anywhere in Utah, we’re going to keep it in Utah, with anyone from the past, present or future, who is it with and where would you go?
Stacy Bare: (19:03) When people ask me about my favorite places that I’ve ever got to visit or travel to, my all-time favorites are in Utah, and it’s the Gates of Lodore, and it’s the Wasatch Range. If I had to pick a third, you know, the Colorado Plateau is incredible. There are so many incredible places in Utah. I think people are finding it more than ever before but living in Salt Lake, looking up at the Wasatch every day, walking around here we’re up here. You’re like ‘Hey, this is Snake Pit Gully.’ I would love to be in the Wasatch, or that you went to as honestly or Gates, you know, the Green River.
Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll take a trip on the Green River with the Fremont people. I would love to be here and know what these places meant so much to me were called by the most ancient people that we know of who lived here. I’d like to see how they interact with this place. I would like to know where their secret and special sites are, where they like to go to reflect, or to think or to meet their version of divinity or God because I know where I like to go. The Wasatch is one of my favorite places. I know if it was a special place, a sacred place for others who were here before any Europeans showed up, or even the native tribes we know today, or if it was just another place or what it even looked like. That’s what I’d like to pick. I don’t know the father of the Fremont people who had a little kid that he was teaching how to climb or ski and come out here and go down the Green River with him.
Pitt Grewe: (20:48) I’m with you on that. I think I’d be in the same timeframe as far as exploring, and forming a relationship with the native tribes, and learning from their wisdom and their experience in the areas of the West as you move throughout on the next exploration. I think that’d be an invaluable experience to learn and to have.
Stacy, thanks for coming out tonight. The sun just set behind the mountains, and we are going to walk down a little bit of darkness. Enjoy this nice breeze, a relief from the hot temperatures down in the valley.
I want to encourage everybody to participate in the summit. Go to utahoutdoorsummit.com to get information to register. It’s next week. Please, if you have anything to do with outdoor recreation, or you just enjoy recreating and talking about it, sign up. Conversations that we have will be really important. It’ll change your mindset. You’ll open your eyes to all the different aspects of outdoor recreation across the state of Utah and get to know the conversations going on and the people that are making a difference in our communities and across our state. We really encourage you to do that.
Stacy Bare: (21:59) Find a way to get involved yourself. It only works If the community gets engaged.
Pitt Grewe: (22:05) If you have any questions, reach out to the Office of Outdoor Recreation. We’re here to help. We’re a resource for all people getting outside and recreating and the state of Utah. I want to encourage you with that. We’ll see you all at the Summit, and hopefully, we’ll have more of these trailside talks in the near future. Maybe Stacy and I will keep doing it because I like hanging out with Stacy, but maybe we’ll get some other guests eventually. Thanks, everybody. Have a good night. We’ll see you at the Summit.
Thanks for listening to the Business Elevated podcast, a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Listen to other episodes where you get your podcasts or at business.utah.gov.