Outdoor enthusiasts pleased with new government office

San Rafael Swell Drilling
Hiker enjoying a beautiful canyon view. (Photo by AP)

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has been traveling the country promoting the nation’s first Office of Outdoor Recreation, and students said they are excited about what this means for the outdoor industry.

Herbert has made recent trips to Colorado and New York to promote his vision for Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation. This is the first office of its kind in the country and many residents anticipate the opportunities this will create for Utahns.

“It shows that we see it’s important, we want to make it a priority and we want it to continue to grow,” said Craig Jones about outdoor recreation in Utah. “I’m sure if it’s a success, then states like Colorado, Oregon and California will all follow suit because they’re really big outdoor states too.”

Jones is the president of BYU’s Outdoor Adventure club and is excited about prospects the initiative brings to the state of Utah.

“I think it will boost the economy in that it shows to the companies in the outdoor industry here that Utah really cares about the outdoors. So it’ll draw in new companies and it’ll help companies that are already here want to stay here,” he said.

The Outdoor Recreation show in Salt Lake City has been a major event for the outdoor industry in Utah, and despite a recent scare with possible relocation, Jones said he believes the new office helped keep it in the state.

“In the past, the outdoor industry got a little mad because of issues with public lands,” he said. “So people in the industry said, ‘I don’t know if we want to do the OR show in Utah anymore.’ We don’t want to stop that. It brings millions of dollars in twice a year.”

Others are hoping this new office brings more opportunities to explore the great outdoors.

“I’ve never gone mountain biking here, even though it is something I think is fun,” said Brandon Jensen, an avid hiker from Wyoming. “When I was a kid I used to ride my bike everywhere. If there was a place to go that was a little more mainstream, I’d probably take part in that.”

Sarah Murdock, a senior in the business management program, said this would help increase activity off the beaten path.

“It’ll make the backcountry stuff more popular. It might make it a bit more the everyday man,” she said.

Murdock, an outdoor enthusiast from Kaysville, said she also believes this increased popularity might also have an effect on the land itself.

“It’s not very protected. So if it becomes too crowded, it might not be well maintained,” she said.

Despite this, she said she believed this would be a great benefit to those who frequent the outdoors.

“Utah has some awesome outdoor recreation, and as long as the backcountry isn’t the focus, I think a lot of people will enjoy it,” she said.

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