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Grants Boost Utah's Ideas For Outdoor Fun

Christina R. Sloan/ Friends of Indian Creek
These boulders at Lion's Park in Moab were built with help from a grant by the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Utah’s economic officials are taking outdoor fun seriously. They’re fielding new applications for matching grants to fund outdoor recreation projects.

“There’s a lot of imagination here,” says Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, the first of its kind in the nation. “And the term ‘outdoor recreation’ is really vast.”

Matching grants worth $500,000 have funded 19 outdoor recreation projects around the state so far.

The projects include a mountain biking skills park in Highland and climbing boulders at a city park in Moab.

And now applications are being accepted for a new round of matching grants. Adams says project proposals simply need to involve outdoor recreation.

“Whether they want to put a little marina on the Jordan River so they can get their kayaks in and out or their boats to row crew,” he says of eligible projects. “It could be signage on existing trails that they want to make it easier for people to get around and have a better experience.”

One goal of the grants is to get people outside. Another goal is to weave outdoor recreation into the fabric of Utah’s economy.

The Outdoor Industry Association says recreation brings $12 billion dollars to Utah in consumer spending and supports over 122,000 jobs. Adams says the benefits are recognized even in communities like Price and Vernal, that have traditionally relied on the energy industry.

“They’re looking to outdoor recreation to have some economic impact,” he says. “And, as a benefit, a lot of the community becomes healthier because of it.”

The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation is accepting applications through August 11.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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