Stewardship of public lands is essential, says new director of Utah Division of Out of doors Recreation – St George Information


ST. GEORGE – Maintaining access to public lands for recreational use is the focus of Jason Curry, the new director of the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation.

“Managing public lands and our outdoor recreational facilities is everyone’s responsibility,” Curry told St. George News. “So we take that very seriously as one of our responsibilities, to communicate and to help people understand the importance of caring for the spaces that we all love, share and preserve and for which we care want to keep access.”

But Curry warned that if enough people use an area, someone, either out of sheer ignorance or perhaps out of sheer laziness, will abuse the area. Then the conversation turns to whether a website needs to be shut down to protect it, and he said that’s counterintuitive.

“We have a responsibility to protect the country,” Curry said. “And it is incumbent upon anyone who visits nature and enjoys outdoor recreation not only not to destroy it, but to leave it in better condition than when it got there.”

The Curry Department of Outdoor Recreation Office will continue to educate people who are unaware that some acts are harmful and affect everyone’s ability to access and enjoy public lands.

Jason Curry is the new director of the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, location and date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, St. George News

Another priority for Curry is the economic benefits of outdoor recreation. He estimates that “somewhere near $6.5 million” flows from the free time.

“There’s a huge tourism component in southern Utah. They have some of the most amazing national parks in the world and definitely in the country,” Curry said. “And people from all over the world visit these places.”

In addition to the tourism industry, Utahns also contribute to the state’s tax base by recovering. He said locals know some of the more rural, remote spots.

“There are also some amazing reservoirs in southern Utah,” Curry said, “and all of those things combined, like buying the things you use to enjoy the great outdoors, the fuel you use or the equipment and the supplies you need for a trip. Collectively, it makes up a significant portion of the tax base throughout Utah, but especially in southern Utah.”

As part of the Department of Natural Resources, Curry will oversee the nation’s first office of outdoor recreation with other state recreation management programs including the Utah Boat Program, Off-Highway Vehicle Program and Recreational Rangers.

The Outdoor Recreation department manages:

  • leisure access.
  • security and education.
  • Stewardship and sustainable visit.
  • Economic growth and opportunities through outdoor recreation.

The Outdoor Recreation division works with partners, including clubs and organizations. Curry said these groups are conducting cleanup projects and trail improvements throughout Utah. He plans to work with land managers and industry partners to represent the state’s outdoor recreation interests and inspire all Utahns to get involved in outdoor recreation.

Other partners include the National Park Service, local travel agencies, tourist offices, the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

In his new position, Curry aims to expand and enhance outdoor recreation in Utah by promoting the economic, spiritual and physical benefits of outdoor activities.

“There’s a lot of scientific evidence that shows being outside is good for your health,” Curry said. “Everyone’s always talking about work-life balance and escaping the demands of a busy life and being outside.”

He said outdoor recreation is the most popular way to find balance in life.

“Being with family and friends, doing things we enjoy, and appreciating the great place we live in,” Curry said.

According to a press release, Utah Department of Natural Resources executive director Joel Ferry appointed Curry to the new position because of his background.

“Jason brings a wealth of expertise that will help advance the division’s mission,” Ferry said in the press release. “It is critical that we continue to build a strong, sustainable outdoor recreation economy with opportunities that improve the quality of life for Utah residents by providing them with the best outdoor experiences possible.”

Curry comes from the Department of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, where he was an associate director and oversaw six state area offices, including the law enforcement program, public affairs and safety program. Before being promoted to associate director, he was the department’s public information officer and chief investigator. He also served on the Davis County Search and Rescue Team for many years.

Curry said he looks forward to working with DOR’s partners, clubs and organizations. He plans to work with land managers, national parks and industry partners to represent the state’s outdoor recreation interests.

Curry, his wife and two children have lived in Bountiful for 24 years. Curry enjoys mountain biking, skiing, OHV and snowmobiling, rock climbing, camping and sailing. Curry graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, All Rights Reserved.

Stephanie DeGraw is an award-winning journalist. She has worked in journalism, broadcasting and public relations for 25 years. DeGraw has worked for the Salt Lake Tribune, Associated Press and The City Journals. She was a reporter for a CBS television station in Twin Falls, Idaho. She graduated from Weber State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and broadcasting.