2019 Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit emphasizes collaboration and health

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The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation’s 6th annual Outdoor Recreation Summit was held 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. 

Over 450 attendees participated in the Summit, which was a record-breaking year. Intermountain Healthcare, Zions Bank, Fluid Communications and REI were Summit sponsors.

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 attendees from around the country, the Summit was the ideal place to celebrate our past and plan the routes of our future.”

Summit speakers 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 launched a special showing of a new video that will be shown at Zion National Park starting in November. 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.

Attendees had the option of participating in service projects that have an immediate impact on the community. Red Rock Bicycle Company was a Summit partner and organized 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.

On the last day of the Summit, the National Governors Association was welcomed which gathered 23 states as part of their 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. These leaders committed to advance the principles contained in the Outdoor Recreation Industry Confluence Accords on behalf of their governors. The signing 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.

Next year’s Summit will be held Aug. 25-27 in Orem, Utah, at the Utah Valley Convention Center.