Resolution honors importance of Utah outdoor recreation

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Katelyn Stiles
Coyote Gulch in Escalante is one of the many Utah attractions recognized in HCR7. (Katelyn Stiles)

Utah boasts five national parks, seven national monuments, 44 state parks, 14 ski resorts, 40 blue ribbon fisheries and thousands of miles of trails.

“These resources attract millions of people to our state, add $8 billion dollars of economic activity and ring in about $1.25 billion dollars in tax revenue each year,” said Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Salt Lake.

Spendlove is sponsoring HCR7, a concurrent resolution that recognizes the economic importance of outdoor recreation in Utah. He said he wants to honor the unique resources Utah residents are fortunate to have.

Utah Outdoor Partners President Doug Owens said his organization surveyed 50 of the fastest growing companies in Utah. The survey showed that access to outdoor recreation was consistently among the top factors in these companies’ decisions to be located in Utah.

“We support HCR7, which recognizes that Utah’s unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunity benefits many segments of the economy,” Owens said. “We are especially glad it points out that those benefits go well beyond the tourism and recreation sectors.”

Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was the first in the nation, and since its establishment, many states have followed suit, according to office director Tom Adams.

The office ensures that Utahns can live a healthy, active lifestyle through outdoor recreation, Adams said.

“One of the factors companies look at when deciding where to locate is a state’s migration rate, which we know has been very high in Utah,” Adams said. “Which is directly correlated to the quality of life that we enjoy, and that’s in large part due to our outdoor recreational opportunities.”

The bill’s text also recognizes that these natural assets directly employ 146,000 Utahns.

When HCR7 was being reviewing in the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee on Feb. 1, Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, spoke in favor of the resolution.

“I think this provides an important vision for our state as we make policy decisions that impact the future of the state, whether they be air quality, growth, or land use decisions,” she said. “Remembering how important the outdoor industry is for our economic future is critical in making long-term decisions.”

The committee agreed and the resolution passed with a favorable recommendation. On Feb. 6, it passed unanimously on the House floor — now, HCR7 will move to the Senate for consideration.

“People don’t get it until they get here, but once you get here, it’s different,” said Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns. “Utah is special and bragging about that is a good thing.”

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