State Parks as Partners
|Goblin Valley State Park will be the site of an ultra marathon on Oct. 29.|
It seems to be a new way of looking at Utah State Parks and how they fit into the community and Robin Pearson is leading the effort. Pearson is a deputy director for the Department of Natural Resources. Pearson said they met with Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. and he wants the Department of Natural Resources to add value to all of the natural resources in the state of Utah.
With this in mind, Pearson organized a meeting in Emery County with people in various positions in the community to gather input in how to add value to the state parks. Emery County was chosen as a pilot project because it contains four state parks including, Huntington Lake State Park, Millsite State Park, Goblin Valley State Park and Green River State Park which includes the Green River golf course.
"We want to think of ways to promote the parks and bring in more visitors to see the area and spend time here. We need a plan, a strategy," said Pearson. Pearson told of working on the Intermountain Power Project in Delta at the beginning of the project. The population of Delta was going to triple and he dealt with the opportunities and threats which accompanied such a population increase. During this time, Pearson viewed a video which helped him. He showed the video to those gathered. The video dealt with paradigms and what they are and how they can be dispelled.
Pearson said there are solutions out there, you just need to find them and bring the right people together. The solutions have always existed, but sometimes lie just beyond our reach. It takes people bright and smart enough to discover solutions to problems and invest the time and energy to find these solutions.
The video gave ideas as to why new ideas are so easily rejected by people. It is less work to do things as they have always been done. New ideas are resisted and they have been since the dawn of time. What prevents new ideas from being accepted? That's where the paradigm comes in, a paradigm is a model or pattern. Sets of rules and regulations provide rules for success. When these rules are challenged or don't meet our expectations then paradigms can act as filters.
In the field of science, what happens when science changes the boundaries? Some scientists would reject data which did not match the scientists paradigm. They were incapable of perceiving the data.
The paradigm affect blinds people to new opportunities. Paradigms keep us from discovering the future. The video told how the man who invented the Xerox machine was rejected when he tried to introduce his idea. People weren't interested. The perception and image of Japan and its products was also discussed and how they have changed their paradigm from cheap quality products to leaders in the high tech world of electronics.
One idea introduced was that when the paradigm shifts you go back to zero and past success guarantees nothing. He also told how the Swiss lost the watch market when they weren't willing to shift to the quartz watch movement and it was their inventors who first introduced the quartz watch.
People who say it can't be done should get out of the way for those who are doing it. The new rules lie at the edges. Those who are willing to change and run with new ideas are paradigm pioneers. It takes great courage and trust in judgment to jump in and see the world anew and be an optimist about the future. Be willing to be flexible and you'll be happy and busy for a lifetime.
|New sunshades at Goblin Valley keep the heat off visitors.|
Pearson said although the video was made in the 1980s it is still thought provoking and interesting and as true today as it was then. Thinking outside the box is never easy. One paradigm Pearson would like to change is that a government institute can't be advocates for change.
"Our new governor and the new director of the Department of Natural Resources, Mike Styler are advocates for change. Be a part of it, or come along kicking and screaming. I would like to see positive change to Emery County," said Pearson.
He said as state employees they would like to combine to create a plan and enhance goals and objectives to create growth in the communities. "We need to stand on each others shoulders and share thoughts and ideas on how to improve tourism and the economy for Emery County," said Pearson.
Pearson mentioned Moab and the changes that have taken place there since the uranium boom of the 50s. Moab has totally shifted and they are now an internationally known community. Cedar City and the summer games and the Shakespearian festival draw huge crowds each year and during the summer games, you can't find a motel room in Cedar.
Pearson said he wants the state parks to be an integral part of the economic strategy and to build an alliance between the county and state parks. In Wasatch County they wanted to keep the Olympic venue operating so they have a tubing hill which finances the other activities and the snow from the tubing hill waters the golf course in the summer. Also they have an event called the sheep dog trials where sheep dogs from all over the world come to compete at Soldier Hollow on Labor Day weekend. "At Willard Bay they have Christmas lights throughout the park and people circle through. More visitors means more money. We need destination visitors, we probably aren't going to get much more out of the locals, we need more tourism. We need to break down the barriers," said Pearson.
Utah is investing $18 million in tourism dollars to promote Utah outside the state, but it is hard to get legislators to buy into money to promote Utah in Utah. The state parks have virtually no money for marketing.
The idea came up of using the state parks as a base camp to reach out to outlying areas. When you come to Huntington Lake, bring your ATV, etc. The new generation of recreationalists like to get out and do things. Incredible opportunities are waiting. Young people like to book over the internet and side trips could be laid out. They like one stop shopping. Jason Curry told of a campground he'd been to where the firewood was donated by a local business and was free for campers to use. "Things like that add value to your total experience."
The group discussed ways to bring visitors into the county. Golf packages for winter golf in Green River was mentioned. Motels could offer buy one get one free golf passes with a paid motel room.
The group broke into three subgroups to brainstorm ideas and suggestions which were recorded and shared when the entire group reconvened. Ideas included: forming a media group to promote and formulate advertising, have a toll free number and website with all current events, develop a slogan, statement or brand for the area, capitalize on the proximity to the Wasatch Front to draw visitors to the area, have a fishing tournament at Huntington Lake, have a Green River triathlon, billboards on I-70 advertising the Castle Country, Amtrak packages to Green River, expand small town festivals, coordinate packages for visitors, superhost training for employees, low band radio broadcasts across I-70 promoting the area and activities, get info to visitors registered at the state parks; contact them by email, send welcome packages offering special deals and discounts, cater to overflow crowds from Moab on busy weekends, free visitation days at state parks, arrange tours with tour bus lines, more shooting matches at the shooting range in Green River, combine interest of visitors, shooting and golf packages, etc., geo cache event, bike festivals, hotel amenity bags, corporate tour packages, rentals of recreational equipment, etc.
The items were listed on the board and then prioritized. Committees were formed to begin work on proposed solutions.
Pearson said that money is always an issue and he would work on obtaining the funds to facilitate projects. The group plans to meet again as well as the subcommittees.