Utah’s 2022 legislative common session included hundreds of thousands for out of doors recreation tasks

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The 2022 Legislative Assembly in Salt Lake City – Utah ended on March 4th. It included millions of dollars to fund one-off and ongoing outdoor recreation projects and legislation that improve the way Utah plans, preserves and prioritizes nature and outdoor recreation.

Utah is at the forefront of investing in outdoor recreation and communities and using outdoor recreation to invest in quality of life and help communities develop economically.

“With population increasing and visitors exploring our beautiful state in record numbers, we must continue to invest in things that directly impact the quality of our lives,” said Brian Steed, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources. “Funding and legislative priorities from the 2022 General Assembly demonstrate Utah continues to be the national leader in government initiatives and investments in outdoor recreation.”

In addition to funding, lawmakers have passed bills that prioritize the long-term and sustainable management of outdoor recreation.

“The Division of Outdoor Recreation would like to thank the Legislature for their forward-looking investments,” said Pitt Grewe, director of the new Division of Recreation. “Thank you to Speaker Wilson for continuing to prioritize the future of Utah’s natural world and the quality of life for Utah residents, Rep. Ferry for open dialogue about combining offices and creating government efficiencies while providing the necessary funding for nature and Rep. Snider for starting this process last session, continuing to advocate for it in this session, and for focusing funding on Utah’s outdoor recreation assets.

long-term investments

There is a rich history of stewardship and connection to the land in Utah. Utah prioritizes investment and planning for smart growth, supports residents and tourists, and protects the land we all cherish.

HB 409 (First Replacement: Recreation Infrastructure Changes by Rep. Casey Snider) provides a consistent source of funding for recreation through a percentage of sales and use tax going into the new restricted outdoor adventure infrastructure account. As part of this bill, the Legislature has allocated more than $36 million for statewide outdoor recreation infrastructure, state parks infrastructure and access, paved pedestrian or paved non-motorized transportation routes, and outdoor access and vertical paths.

HB 125 (State Transient Room Tax Modifications by Rep. Carl Albrecht) eliminates the proposed repeal of the outdoor recreation infrastructure grant program, meaning that this source of grant funding for outdoor recreation infrastructure will remain in perpetuity. These grants are unique nationwide. Utah has invested nearly $24 million in outdoor recreation infrastructure through this grant fund since 2015.

Department of Outdoor Recreation

HB 305 (3rd Substitute: Natural Resources Revisions by Rep. Joel Ferry) merged the Division of Recreation and the Office of Outdoor Recreation into one entity – the Division of Outdoor Recreation – which will exist within the Department of Natural Resources.

The Division of Outdoor Recreation is committed to enabling every Utahn to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through outdoor recreation and access to natural spaces. The department will focus on:

· Recreational access on public land

· Representation of the country’s leisure interests at local, regional and federal level

· Improved quality of life through outdoor recreation infrastructure in our communities

· Economic growth and opportunities for our rural communities through outdoor recreation

· Support for outdoor recreation and workforce training and opportunities on public land

· Education, safety and guidance of all our recreational users; residents and visitors

· Support sustainable visitation of our public lands

· Improved health and well-being among Utah residents through recreation and open spaces

· Inclusivity – Ensure that everyone can go outside safely and have the opportunity to connect with the environment

· Engage with educators to support local and outdoor learning opportunities

· Provide opportunities for children to spend more time outdoors and learn about responsible recreation, responsibility and conservation

Outdoor Adventure Commission

The Outdoor Adventure Commission was formed during the 2020 legislative session with the primary objective of developing a strategic plan to meet future outdoor recreation needs in Utah. The plan includes:

  • Improving the quality of life for Utah residents
  • Preserving the state’s natural beauty as more people get outdoors
  • Identify opportunities for sustainable revenue streams to meet maintenance and future needs

Since its inception, the Commission has:

  • Has heard and lectured on regional projects including the High Desert Trail, the Wasatch Loop, the Summit Scenic Byway Corridor, and the Davis County Trail System
  • Procured and commissioned the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University (IORT) to execute the state’s first strategic plan for outdoor recreation
  • Works to identify data points that IORT can measure and incorporate into the strategic plan

Please click here for a summary of additional bills related to outdoor recreation from the 2022 Legislature.

Additional funding:

Marina Extension at Bear Lake State Parkdetails

$60,000,000 (one time) and $500,000 (ongoing)

Developing and improving trails around Bridal Veil Falls details

$400,000 (one time)

Central Wasatch Mountains Project – Details

$200,000 (one time)

Improvement Game at Deer Creek State Parkdetails

$12,000,000 (one time)

DNR Digital Park entry hardware – Details

$600,000 (one time)

Increase support for winter sports in Utah details

$22,000,000 (one time)

Great Salt Lake & Utah Lake Waterbird Studiesdetails

$875,000 (one time)

High desert path [Washington, Iron, Beaver, Millard, San Juan, Tooele, and Box Elder Counties] – Details

$1,000,000 (one time)

Jordan River Improvement Changes (HB0319)details

$22,700 (one time)

Natural Resource Revisions (HB0305)details

$400,000 (current)

Planning request for the North Lake Powell Convention details

$100,000 (one time)

Safety Education for Off-Road Vehicles (HB0180) details

$506,000 (one time)

Recreational Infrastructure Changes (HB409) – Details

$36,200,000 (one time)

Complete the Elite program – Details

$166,400 (current)

Search and Rescue Funding Savings – 2020 GS SB 152 – Details

$-20,000 (one time)

Sports and Olympic funding – Details

$2,000,000 (one time) and $1,000,000 (ongoing)

Preservation of Lake Utah – Details

$30,000,000 (one time)

Veteran Access to State Parks (HB0155)details

$315,000 (current)

Youth Bicycle Education Program – Details

$75,000 (one time) and $25,000 (ongoing)

About the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity

Led by Governor Spencer J. Cox, the Office of the Governor for Economic Opportunities (Go Utah) provides resources and support for starting, growing and attracting businesses. It also fuels tourism, film production, outdoor recreation, and mixed martial arts in Utah. Using state resources and private sector contracts, the office administers programs in economic areas that offer the greatest potential for development and opportunity for Utah residents.