Utah has what it takes, far more than most states and is second-string to none. Too often, however, people don't know, don't understand, or just simply don't want to hear about the recreational opportunities awaiting them.
These were problems discussed Wednesday during the first Utah Outdoor Recreation Symposium in Park City that attracted over 250 state, federal and private individuals for the opening session.Faced with higher use, shrinking budgets, greater demands, reduced staff and a need to expand, resource management agencies, such as the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Utah Parks and Recreation, and the U.S. Forest Service, planned the symposium with three primary objectives.
- To focus on opportunities and needs for improving "customer service" for outdoor recreation users in Utah.
- To develop public awareness and appreciations of Utah's vast outdoor recreation resources with emphasis on caring for and protecting these resources.
- To explore partnerships with both private and government agencies, at all levels, to enhance utilizations and coordination of outdoor recreation opportunities in Utah.
Members of three panels - "Marketing and Promotions," "One Stop Shopping," and "Partnerships" - made presentations and took questions from the group. Work groups presented their findings to the gathering early Thursday.
Dr. Richard Schreyer, a professor of Outdoor Recreation Behavior at Utah State University, told the group that the old method of management was to service the people who showed up.
Now, he said, we have to look at things like impact, changes in use and supplying information about what is available.
He added that in marketing areas today we not only have to get the people to want to come to the areas, but we also have to understand what it is the people want when they get there.
He also said we have to think more about charging people to use the resources. "The more we have people pay, the more we reflect the true value of these areas and the more money we provide to the areas.
"We also must be aware of the importance of leisure time in people's lives. Leisure time is very important to people's quality of life, very important."
The idea behind "One Stop Shopping," noted moderator Jay Woolley, director of Utah Travel Council, is to improve the current information system in the state either through a central information center, or by supplying a broader range of information to the various groups and agencies.
Roland Robison, deputy director for the BLM, told the audience the agencies have to work together.
"We need to sit down and develop ways and means we can help each other out. We've got to do more work together to find ways of cutting cost and offering better facilities. Also, by working together we can provide better information."
Bruce Lloyd, president of the Campground Owners Association, told the group that a survey by his organization showed that half the people interviewed learned about recreation areas from friends and relatives, not from the controlling agencies, and suggested setting up a system he called "One-Stop Bird Dogging . . . "
"Like a bird dog pointing out its quarry, a lot of people out there are looking for information and only need to be pointed in the right direction."
Thelma Jones, president of the Castle Country Travel Council, said that she's found people want to know about Utah, "and many times come up to me and tell me about Utah.
"Sometimes they ask questions I can't answer . . . By talking with each other you can give me help to educate tourist so that when they do come we can tell them what they want to know."
Gean Snow, general manager of Anglers' Inn, told the group it would be an economic boost to the state to work together, and cited successful cooperative projects such as the ones between the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, BLM and U.S. Forest Service at Strawberry, and the recent wetland acquisition funded by Ducks Unlimited and the DWR.
"In 1986," he pointed out, "hunting and fishing, just those two, put half a billion dollars into Utah's economy . . . Strawberry is worth multi-millions to us. We need $12 million to $15 million to complete the project, but it will come back to us many times over. We need to protect our resources."
Dee Holladay, president of Holiday River Expeditions, said it was important for different agencies to take a "partnership attitude in order to flow together like a river" and not drift apart.