Grand Canyon Trust Utah Forests Wilderness Manager speaks out on new Outdoor Recreation Vision

AntimonyCrk2

Last August, at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) issued a call for leadership on lands issues from Governor Gary Herbert. At this winter’s show in January, the Governor’s office responded with a new vision document for outdoor recreation.

Found here, (http://utah.gov/governor/docs/OutdoorRecreationVision.pdf), the document calls for the creation of an office of Outdoor Recreation on par with the current Utah Energy Development office complete with an appointed director and an annual conference to address land and water issues and to report on progress. Importantly, the final document lauds the importance of future legislative protections for wilderness, resolution of RS 2477 roads claims, and outlines other significant steps the state can take to better address land and water conservation issues.

Though the final document did not directly reference the Greater Canyonlands Monument proposal, it provides a framework for identifying and acting on important recreational and environmental assets that deserve protection. When questioned about the absence of Greater Canyonlands at the rollout press conference, the governor underscored that the recreation vision is the vehicle to address this and other proposals. While the last such document produced by the state in 2009 was merely a report primarily on motorized and consumptive opportunities such as power boating, four wheeling and golf, the new vision actually outlines a structure for preserving the lands on which the outdoor economy depends.

The current recreation vision represents a significant step in the right direction from the governor’s office, acknowledging the importance of federal lands resources and programs such as the Land Water Conservation Fund and the Recreational Trails Program – a far cry from the absurd notion that Utah is just months away from assuming ownership and management authority over Utah’s public lands. Representatives from outdoor gear manufactures, the OIA and the governor’s environmental adviser, Alan Matheson, deserve credit for a taking the leap forward this new vision represents.

But the framework is still just a framework after all; it will take continued pressure from the industry, recreation and environmental communities to ensure that action manifests from the vision.  ~ Tim Peterson

Current news stories on Utah’s Outdoor Recreation Vision:

KSL.com
Salt Lake Tribune
Deseret News
KUER.org
sportsonesource.com

Antimony Creek wilderness photo above by Tim Peterson

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