Home Outdoor education How to visit Utah’s public lands without loving them to death

How to visit Utah’s public lands without loving them to death


Land managers and the outdoor recreation community believe education should be part of being outdoors.

(Photo courtesy of the National Park Service) A ranger looks at a sandstone wall with blue spray paint graffiti in Zion National Park. In 2020, the park saw an increase in graffiti, forcing park officials to advocate on social media for visitors not to leave their ‘mark’ and to report any information about those who damaged the resources and facilities of the park. Park.

Kanab • Whether it’s Arches, Zion, Bryce, Bears Ears or Grand Staircase, is it possible to love a landscape to death?

That was the question at Utah’s annual Outdoor Recreation Summit in Kanab, where experts from the outdoor recreation industry discussed how to respectfully visit a place, market and campaign. for tourism, to bring out children and families and to be a good steward of public lands in Utah. .

Tourism teaches people to love the land and this is a boon to local economies, but it also poses problems. Mass tourism degrades fragile landscapes, and visitors to Utah’s red rock country sometimes vandalize or loot archaeological sites. Land managers and the outdoor recreation community believe that education should be an essential part of going out.

The outdoor recreation industry in Utah generates about $ 6 billion a year, according to Pitt Grewe, executive director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation.

With tourism dollars comes garbage, graffiti and traffic. The key is to make mass tourism less damaging by teaching visitors to respect the places they visit, according to outdoor recreation experts.

In his opening speech, Jake Palma, monument manager at the Bears Ears National Monument for the Bureau of Land Management, said that anyone who visits Utah’s 34 million acres of public land, its five national parks or all other land has to do homework. preparing to go beyond bringing water, food and a tent during your leisure time outdoors.

“When you get to a place with rock dwellings or rock art, don’t touch those things,” Palma told the hundreds of people gathered at the Kanab Center when asked how he developed his connection with landscapes like Bears Ears. “People still want to look through windows and walls that are over 1,000 years old. “

Instilling respect for the land should start at an early age, says Matt Cadwell of Tread Lightly !, a nonprofit that promotes responsible recreation.

In his work with those who ride in all-terrain vehicles, Cadwell says this demographic takes pride in ownership of public land. He says pride should also come with a sense of responsibility.

“Ownership has a responsibility and it’s something that we really try to convey to our users,” Cadwell told a crowded room who came for the panel, “Recreation overcrowding: loving our wild places until the dead. “” If you own a home, you are responsible for it. And public lands should not be any different so that we make sure that they are not only available tomorrow, but for future generations.

Although not at the center of messages about Indigenous cultural resources, Brian Storm, archaeologist for the local Kanab office, makes it a priority to advocate for the protection of cultural resources on BLM lands.

“I think it’s very important that people start to realize that cultural sites are more than places to go and that they are important,” he said.

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