Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit expects to connect people across the industry
The outdoor industry is coming to the Wasatch Back.
The fifth annual Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit, which brings together policy makers, professors, retailers, health professionals and activists, is set to take place from Sept. 4-6 at the Zermatt Resort in Midway. The event includes outdoor activities, keynote addresses and breakout sessions covering a variety of topics related to the outdoor industry.
Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, said the organization is celebrating the summit’s fifth year by holding one three-day conference rather than multiple, shorter ones throughout the state, as it has done in the past. This year’s summit also includes more outdoor recreation activities and a service activity, which Adams said can serve as networking opportunities for attendees.
Boosting the amount of time for networking has been one of the requests from attendees for the last several years, Adams said. It is rare for people from diverse sectors to all be in one space, he said, and people want to take advantage of it.
“Hopefully these people can take some time and chat and really come together,” he said.
Adams said building and strengthening those connections makes the summit successful.
In breakout sessions such as the “Collaboration Not Conflict” series, which is in its third year, Adams said topics that are “historically confrontational” are discussed. This year, the topic is “Not in My Backyard Trail Issues.” Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the Park City-based Mountain Trails Foundation, and others will speak about their experiences planning trails that were not wanted by all parties.
Sturgis said he plans to talk about how collaboration can often help people push past conflicts. He has attended the summit for the last few years, and he said that the informal gathering can be beneficial to the outdoor industry.
“It is really important to get various interest groups in the same room where they may not otherwise have done it,” he said.
Plus, it helps keep everyone informed on what is going on in recreation and tourism around Utah, he said.
Adams said that city planners from around the state can also trade ideas as they discuss their solutions to problems small towns with large recreation economies face. A breakout session titled “Gateway and Natural Amenity Region — Tools and Resources,” is expected to address the issues of traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing and workforce shortages in towns like Park City and Moab.
“Recreation definitely has a cause and effect, and sometimes they are more impactful,” Adams said. “So let’s talk about how to find some solutions.”
The summit will also have several panels and workshops centered on the importance of the outdoors on people’s health, especially children. Some of those workshops are “Bringing Outdoor Recreation into Schools to Create Healthy and Active Lifestyles for Children” and “Outdoor Recreation in Quality of Life and Community Health.” Adams said that health has been an increasing focus of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation.
Adams said the conference has continued to grow as representatives from different sectors attend. There are expected to be between 400 and 500 attendees this year. The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation was created five years ago to promote active lifestyles and the state’s outdoor economy.
He is glad to see the conference expand, and he expects that it will only continue as people come to realize how the outdoor economy affects them. Every group can get something different out of the summit, he said.
“More people than they usually recognize are impacted by outdoor recreation or have an impact on outdoor recreation,” he said.
For more information and a full schedule of events, visit http://www.utahoutdoorsummit.com.
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