Mountain West Trails Conference 2024

May 13-15, 2024 | Vernal, Utah

Connect. Build. Learn. Protect.

We invite you to join us May 13-15, 2024, for the inaugural Mountain West Trails Conference at the Uintah Conference Center in Vernal, Utah. Over two days, the conference unites trail advocates, volunteers, land managers, industry professionals, users, and community leaders from the Mountain West states. Together, we’ll tackle trail-related challenges, share innovative ideas, and participate in engaging workshops. The conference provides a unique platform to shape the future of trails in the region, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange that will drive the trail experience forward.

Join us as we convene to celebrate our shared passion for trails, address key issues, and cultivate a vibrant community of trail enthusiasts. The Mountain West Trails Conference is where connections are made, ideas flourish, and collective action sparks positive change for the trails we cherish.

ARIZONA | COLORADO | IDAHO | MONTANA | NEVADA | NEW MEXICO | UTAH | WYOMING

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For sponsorships, contact Sarah Kyle
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Speakers

Chris Savage

American Conservation Experience, National Medical Training Specialist 

 

Chris started work in the wonderful world of environmental conservation in 2011 when he joined the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a crewmember. He now works for American Conservation Experience as the National Medical Training Specialist where he provides Desert Mountain Medicine wilderness medicine courses. His favorite hobbies include mountain biking, backpacking, skiing, and trail running. He holds a master’s degree in Climate Science from Northern Arizona University.

John Knoblock

Trails Utah and Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee, Board Chair

Chevron Chemical Engineer retired and transitioned to full time trail organization, community council, Central Wasatch Commision, and Mountainous Planning Commission volunteer. Don’t forget full time skier and mountain biker too. 

Dr. Megan Lawson

Headwaters Economics

Dr. Megan Lawson leads Headwaters Economics research in outdoor recreation and public lands. She uses economic and statistical analysis to better understand the issues that communities face such as the economic potential and impacts of housing and land use policies, economic diversification, and public land management. Equal parts scientist and communicator, Megan uses data to conduct actionable research that illuminates solutions. She applies analytical skills to land use, natural resource, and public health topics, with an emphasis on the unique needs and opportunities for rural communities.

Mary Aland

American Conservation Experience, Senior Project Manager

As the Senior Project Manager for the Southwest Division of American Conservation Experience, Mary helps to oversee the operation of up to ten conservation crews per week. She started her career as an AmeriCorps member with ACE in 2017, moving from Maryland to Arizona. She has since worked in several field leadership positions with other organizations in Oregon and Colorado bolstering her trail work, environmental education, and forest management experience. Her favorite days are still the ones when she’s out in the field, putting tools in the dirt, and enjoying the southwestern sunshine.

Lexi Little

Utah State Historic Preservation Office,  Data and Events Specialist 

My educational background is in Outdoor Recreation and Resource management. I previously worked for the Division of Outdoor Recreation before transitioning to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). My current position is the Data and Events Specialist for the Utah Cultural Site Stewardship (UCSS) Program, where I work with state volunteers, manage the program data, and organize public outreach events for archaeology and stewardship across the state.

Evan Ely

Pointe Strategy, Planner + Senior Trail Designer

After four years of professionally building trails, managing projects, and overseeing trail crews as a Project Manager, Evan brings his real world construction experience to Pointe Strategies as a Senior Trail designer. He grew up building bike jumps and trails in the local woods behind his home before volunteering for local trail days and becoming exposed to the professional trail building industry. Evan uses his architectural design schooling to create a variety of drawings using AutoCAD and conceptual images to give clients and contractors a better idea and understanding of what the finished product will look like. Being a skilled trail builder and experienced machine operator, Evan has the knowledge to help create both trail designs and construction documents to bridge the gap between design and construction. He continues to be heavily involved in the volunteer trail work world to spread trail maintenance principles and stay connected with trails organizations. Evan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Technology from Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri.

Matthias Schmitt

Zion Stargazing, Head Astronomy Guide

Matthias has been passionately involved in astronomy outreach and public events in astronomy, STEM, and space sciences for over ten years. He is an avid eclipse chaser with observations in Antarctica, Oregon, Argentina, Oman, Australia, and other locations. Matthias is the head astronomy guide at Stargazing Zion, a private stargazing guide and stargazing program education company. He also consults the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada on astronomy programs for the Girl Scouts. Previously, he was the Executive Producer of the CGI-animated STEM television show Space Racers. He teaches a wide range of astronomy topics to K-12 students and adults at astronomy clubs. Matthias holds a Master of Science in Astronomy from Swinburne University’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing. He is a member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the St. George Astronomy Group, and the Amateur Astronomer Association of New York.

Tyler Fonarow

Salt Lake City Department of Public Lands – Recreational Trails Manager

Tyler is the Recreational Trails Manager for the Salt Lake City Department of Public Lands. He has acted as the project manager for the Salt Lake City Foothills Trail System Plan implementation for the past five years, and more recently began coordination of the City’s recreation and restoration efforts along the Jordan River Parkway and Water Trail. While Tyler is still sharpening his saw in the world of land management, he spent the prior 20+ years in school administration experiencing his fair share of conflict resolution and project management. His priorities in his role are urban-nature interface recreation, community education, and thoughtfully planning open spaces that create accessible, enjoyable, and sustainable experiences. In addition to his role with Salt Lake City, Tyler serves on the Board of Directors for the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation.

Aaron Averet

Sunrise Engineering– Civil Engineer 

Aaron has been Civil Engineer for 19 years with Sunrise Engineering. Those years include recreation projects design and construction management for parks and trails in Utah and Nevada. Aaron lives in the Uintah Basin, but currently works throughout rural Utah and Colorado on projects ranging from small community assistance on water and recreation motorized and non-motorized projects to DOT projects on trails and roads. Backpacking, skiing, mountain and dirt biking top the list of his favorite outdoor activities.

Jason Curry

Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation– Director

Jason Curry is the Director of the Division of Outdoor Recreation. In this role, he leads the administration of all outdoor recreation grant programs in the state. The division has a contingent of sworn law enforcement State Rangers and is also responsible for the management of the state’s OHV and Boating programs. The Division is also responsible for supporting the outdoor industry businesses and partners to ensure a healthy outdoor recreation economy. Jason graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Economics. He has worked in Natural Resources for 25 years, including leadership roles in land management, law enforcement, wildfire, and public relations. He previously served as Vice Commander and Training Officer for the Davis County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, and worked many years on Incident Management Teams throughout the US. Prior to his position at DOR, he served as the Deputy Director of the Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands. Jason is a lifelong trail zealot and is an experienced mountain biker, snowmobiler, OHV rider, backcountry & alpine skier, climber, sailor, and backpacker.

Alec Wilcox

Alec Wilcox is a Grants Coordinator with Arizona State Parks and Trails. He has been working with State Parks for 5 years. He holds a BA from the University of Iowa. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona. He works for State Parks with the goal of increasing outdoor recreation for all by assisting with the administration of essential grants to fund parks and trails. He is an avid Mountain Biker and Hiker who loves wildlife and nature. He is skilled in the back-end administration of a wide variety of Federal and State funding opportunities for motorized and non-motorized parks and trails.

Jess Farmer

Bureau of Land Management, Vernal Feild Office Outdoor Recreation Planner

Jessica Farmer is an Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Bureau of Land Management, Vernal Field Office. Her educational background is in recreation planning and management, and she previously worked in wildland fire before transitioning into the recreation career path. As an Outdoor Recreation Planner, she loves to share and promote responsible recreation on our public lands. She is passionate about reaching youth and encouraging them to explore the many opportunities available for them to get outside in their local communities. She loves any opportunity she has to go visit at schools or provide educational guided hikes and tours at any of the many sites within the Vernal Field Office.

Amy Crawford

Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation, Outdoor Recreation Coordinator

Amy graduated from Alaska Pacific University with a Bachelor’s in Outdoor Studies. Amy works for the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation, a division of Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources. Amy is tasked with facilitating 5 Outdoor Recreation Collaboratives in the state, connecting people with resources to support their outdoor recreation projects. She resides in Casper, Wyoming.

Wendy Lotze

Network for Arizona Trails, Coordinator

Wendy Lotze is an avid hiker and backpacker as well as a 4th generation native of Arizona – so her becoming involved in the Arizona Trail was inevitable. She has already hiked more than 500 miles of the 800 mile trail, which includes the Sky Islands close to her home in Tucson. She began working with the Arizona Trail Association as a volunteer in 2005 and is currently the ATA’s Director of Volunteer Programs. In this role, she oversees 2,000 volunteers every year who contribute over 20,000 hours to the organization’s conservation and recreation mission. The programs she supervises include the Trail Skills Institute, Gateway Community Program, and the ATA’s Trail Stewardship Program. When she’s not on the trail, Wendy is faculty in the College Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning at the University of Arizona. She served eight years on the City of Tucson’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee advocating for safer, more equitable transportation space. In early 2020, she helped to initiate and host the inaugural Summit for Arizona Trails and today serves as the Coordinator for the Network for Arizona Trails, a statewide collaborative that seeks to elevate trail-based recreation in Arizona.

JD Tanner

Leave No Trace, Director of Education and Training

JD Tanner is the Director of Education and Training at Leave No Trace. With over 24 years of experience as an outdoor recreation administrator and educator, JD brings a perspective from over 18 years in higher education and six years as a Leave No Trace educator and administrator. In addition to working closely with federal and state entities on numerous educational projects, JD has worked to secure over $1.2 million in grants and donations to build over 16 miles of trails on the college campuses he has worked at, including a 13-mile IMBA-designed system at Southern Illinois University (introducing the first designated mountain biking trails in Southern Illinois) and a 3-mile hiking trail (built in partnership with AmeriCorps teams) at San Juan College in New Mexico. JD has coauthored 12 hiking and biking guides and is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University.

Michelle Baragona

Michelle Baragona

Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office, GIS Manager

Michelle is the GIS Manager for the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office, where she helps bring geospatial technology and awareness to facilitate the legal process. She relishes in Utah’s unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities by biking, packrafting, camping, and trail running across a variety of landscapes.

Jordan Katcher

Wallace Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution, Instructor and Gateway + Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative, Facilitator 

Jordan Katcher (she/her) is an Initiatives Facilitator within the Wallace Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution (EDR) Program and an Adjunct Instructor within the City + Metropolitan Planning Department at the University of Utah. She serves as facilitator and operations manager for the Gateway + Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative, facilitates community conversations, mentors students, conducts situation assessments, and provides training and coaching related to conflict management and collaborative process design. Outside of work, she enjoys forest bathing, baking sourdough bread, traveling, laughing with loved ones, and practicing gratitude.

Michael Kusiek

Wyoming Pathways, Executive Director 

Michael has over twenty years of experience in project management for health care, education, conservation, and public lands concerns. He has worked with South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, New York, and Colorado groups in performance improvement and organizational development. Michael is the past Chair of the Lander Community Foundation and a past Lander City Council member. Michael earned a B.A. in multicultural studies/history and a Master’s in Education focused on total quality management.

Ian Wright

Utah State Historic Preservation Office, Utah Cultural Site Stewardship Coordinator 

Ian Wright is the Utah Cultural Site Stewardship Coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). This program is the community facing arm of SHPO that works with the public to help safeguard cultural resources. Ian is from Salt Lake City where he lives with his family, their large dog named Buffalo, and DNR-adopted desert tortoise. He has a background in archaeology, community-based education programming, and holds a master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Management from Johns Hopkins University. In his free time he can often be found working in his woodshop.

Marc Hildesheim

National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council , Executive Director 

Marc is a lifetime OHV enthusiast from North Idaho. He began his professional career with ID Parks and Recreation as a seasonal Trail Ranger in 2003. Marc later became the North Region Trails Specialist for IDPR OHV Program. Marc moved to New Mexico in 2012 to serve as the OHV education coordinator and then as the Program Manager. In 2015 Marc joined the NOHVCC staff as a Project Manager. In 2023 Marc was selected as the Executive Director for NOHVCC. He has worked on trail projects and delivered educational trail programming across the country.

Elaine Gizler

San Juan County Economic Development and Visitor Services, Director

Elaine Gizler is the San Juan County Economic Development and Visitor Services Director. As the Economic Development and Visitor Services Director in San Juan County, I have the opportunity to promote beautiful landscapes and much more. She also partners with many diverse communities within San Juan County; she performs various administrative and managerial duties in Economic Development, Housing, Branding, and Marketing in San Juan County. She attends International Trade Shows, travels to International Destinations to train Travel Agents, and meets with Tour Company management. She is the host of the Podcast “San Juan Now.” Elaine Gizler was formerly the Grand County Economic Development and Discover Moab Director. She is a Board Member of Utah State Parks, a Board Member of the Southeast Rural Loan Fund, Envision Utah, and a Board Member of the Utah United Way of Eastern Utah. Elaine has an extensive background in Sales, Marketing, and Branding, with years in the Cosmetic and Tourism Industry, and she is happy that she does not have to worry about launching a new lipstick every season. She is thrilled to represent San Juan County, which can be a journey of a lifetime filled with adventure.

Lisa Stoner

Utah State University’s Institute of Outdoor Recreation and TourismCoordinator for the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range Dark Sky Cooperatives

Lisa works for Utah State University’s Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism where she serves as the Coordinator for the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range Dark Sky Cooperatives. Lisa focuses on outreach, educational programs, and partnerships to elevate the importance of naturally dark night skies and technical support to minimize unnecessary light pollution. She received her MSc in Range Ecology from USU focusing on remote-sensing and mapping of plant communities and disturbed landscapes. Lisa runs the Quarterly CONNECTIONS, an interactive webinar series to engage dark sky advocates, community planners, lighting experts, and decision-makers, on topics related to the economic, recreational, cultural, and scientific benefits of clear night skies.

Jim Stanger

Friends of Nevada Wilderness – Community & Development Manager

Jim is the Community & Development Manager for Friends of Nevada Wilderness. A few years after moving to Las Vegas, he started volunteering on conservation projects throughout Clark Co, eventually assuming a volunteer leadership position with Friends of Sloan Canyon. During that time he created and maintained a popular interpretive trailhead program introducing families to backyard astronomy. Eventually, Jim moved into conservation nonprofit work full-time. His role at FNW allows him to engage in dark sky advocacy and outreach along with his other duties.

Scot Grossman

Jefferson County Open Space, Project Manager

Scot Grossman is a Project Manager with two decades of experience in Civil Design and Construction, Government Procurement, Alternative Delivery Methods, Construction Management, Environmental Permitting, Land Conservation, Real Estate Contracts, and Community Engagement. He has spent the last 14 years working for Jefferson County Open Space, currently serving as the Project Management Supervisor. In this role, Scot is responsible for overseeing design and construction of all the organization’s capital improvement projects. Most notably, he has been the Project Manager for the Peaks to Plains Trail since its inception. Scot specializes in efficiently navigating all aspects of a project’s lifecycle – from concept to ribbon cutting. Scot’s projects have won numerous awards around the country, and he prides himself on taking part in projects that will long outlive him. Scot holds a Master of Urban Planning degree, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. In his free time, you can find him skiing, hiking, cooking delicious meals without following recipes, and otherwise exploring the outdoors.

Forrest Kamminga

Wyoming State Parks, Cultural Resources and Trails, Motorized Trails Program Manager

As a Lander Native Forrest Kamminga joined the state parks and cultural resources team in 2009 as a trail crew member working on both winter and summer trails. In 2013, he was promoted to the Regional Trails Supervisor in charge of snowmobile and ORV trails across western Wyoming. In 2019 he interviewed and accepting the position as Trails Program Manager He has a passion for outdoor adventures which include fishing, hunting, and dirt bike riding, along with his favorite activity – snowmobiling. Prior to coming to work for the Trails Program, he worked in the construction industry building log homes, framing houses, road construction, working in the oil fields, and then eventually started his own construction business. For the past 4 years he has continued to lead the Trails Program down the path of success. “I take a huge amount of pride in managing the State’s high-quality motorized trail opportunities and will continue working with land managers across the state to perfect and expand the trails system where feasible and manageable, while also promoting responsible motorized recreation” he said.

 

 

Mike Cannon

SWCA Environmental Consultants, Archaeologist & Business Development Director

Mike Cannon is an archaeologist in the Vernal office of SWCA Environmental Consultants. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork and consultation in Utah and throughout the West for 30 years. He is passionate about making archaeology accessible to the public. He is also the business development director for SWCA’s Utah offices, responsible for building and maintaining client and partner relationships. Finally, he and his wife Julie are active users of the Vernal area’s trails as mountain and gravel bikers and walkers of two energetic cattle dogs.

 

 

Troy Lupcho

Northern Utah Mountain Bikers, Trail Building and Design

As a former BMX World Champion, biking has been the epicenter of Troy’s life. He owned and operated Altitude Cycle in Vernal, Ut for more than 23 years. As the originator of McCoy Flats trail system, Troy has been an integral part in creating and establishing McCoy Flats as a biking destination. This year marks its 25th anniversary!

 

 

Tyler Wilhelm

Dirty Dino Gravel Grinder, Race Organizer 

Tyler Wilhelm was born and raised in Vernal, UT. He has lived in the basin for over 25 years. He met his beautiful wife there and together they married in the Vernal Temple. They together with their 5 kids are passionate about the outdoors and love the recreation opportunities here in Vernal. Tyler started mountain biking western trails while attending Weber State. Tyler attended graduate school in Detroit, MI and lived in Michigan for nearly 10 years. While there, Tyler started road cycling, triathlons, and gravel racing in the Midwest. Tyler moved back to Utah 5 years ago with his family and brought his passion for all cycling disciplines with him. With the help of many friends and family, Tyler joined with Joe Porter and their dream of staging a gravel race in Tyler’s hometown became a reality 3 years ago with the creation of the Dirty Dino Gravel Grinder! 

 

 

Pitt Grewe

AllTrails, Head of Public Lands Partnerships

Pitt has been working in the outdoor industry for 20 years. From ski bum to public service, he has always focused on helping people get outside and find a connection with our public lands. In this role, he is helping land managers reach AllTrails users with critical information and get access to important trail user data trends to keep people safe and protect our public lands.  Before joining AllTrails, Pitt served as the Director of the Division of Outdoor Recreation in the state of Utah. Constantly working with the many outdoor recreation stakeholders to increase funding, harbor collaboration and educate communities on the benefits of getting outside. He is always up for an adventure on a trail, a river, a cliff face, or in the snow.

Dayton Crites

Dayton Crites

SE Group , Senior Outdoor Recreation Planner

Trained as a landscape architect and practicing as a planner, Dayton brings multidisciplinary thinking to designing everything from built trail networks to regional recreation plans. His experience ranges from bike parks and trail systems to downtown streetscapes and active transportation facilities. An American Planning Association certified planner, Dayton holds a Master of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning degree from Utah State University. His official undergraduate degree is in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz, but his unofficial degree was in mountain biking (…it’s Santa Cruz). He currently resides in Montpelier Vermont, but don’t hold that against him – his heart is out west despite moving east for love.

Dayton Crites

Josh Olson

IMBA ,Director of Construction and Operations – Trail Solutions

Josh Olson, a lifelong Coloradan, is a trail industry professional who has been building mountain bike trails for over 18 years. Josh gained his first professional trail building experience at Silverton Mountain in CO, since
then he’s established successful career including resort bike park construction and management, community trail development, and federal land trail network creation. Josh joined the IMBA Trail Solutions build team in 2018 and has been Trail Solutions Director of Construction and Operations since 2021.

Dayton Crites

Grace Templeton

Wyoming Pathways, Community Engagement

Grace Templeton has been with Wyoming Pathways for over a year and brings several years of professional experience in social media, marketing, communications, fundraising, and event planning. Her primary focus is expanding our reach and engaging with citizens across the state on issues related to human-powered transportation and recreational activities. Before working with Wyoming Pathways, Grace was the Event & Marketing Coordinator and Festival Director for the International Climbers’ Festival, a four-day celebration and fundraiser for the Central Wyoming Climbers’ Alliance (CWCA). Grace has a fantastic ability to build partnerships and constituency groups by communicating across all sectors.

Dayton Crites

Chris Hartman

Chris Hartman began working for the US Forest Service as the forest landscape architect on the Siuslaw National Forest in 1991. He transferred to the Intermountain Region and became the regional landscape architect from 1993-2010. Chris detailed as the Chief Landscape Architect in the Washington Office in 2007. From 2010 to 2014 Chris served as the National Developed Sites and Business Information Manager in the Washington Office, before returning to the Intermountain Region as the RHWR Director. He has had several international opportunities to Russia and Bangladesh were he worked on developing plan for trails and recreation infrastructure.

Dayton Crites

Carl Colonius

New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division,  Outdoor Recreation Planner

Carl Colonius is a long-time resident of northern New Mexico. In 1995, he co-founded Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Taos, and was the Executive Director until transitioning out of the organization after 20 years. He then launched Colonius Consulting to focus on rural community sustainability. Projects included national service expansion in New Mexico, assisting in the development of the Enchanted Circle Trails Plan, then fronting Enchanted Circle Trails Association, and supporting strategic partnerships and organizational capacity with a multitude of local governments. In 2022, New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division invited Carl to join their team as an Outdoor Recreation Planner. Carl lives in Arroyo Hondo north of Taos, has been married to Romy for 25 years, and has three children, all graduates of Taos High School. Carl skis, bikes, kayaks, backpacks, gardens, assigns chores, is a parciante on the Acequia Madre del Llano, and can be found tooling around the west in an old airstream.

Dayton Crites

Brandon Stocksdale

Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, Community Planner

Brandon Stocksdale as worked as a Community Planner for the National Park Service in the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (NPS-RTCA) Program since October 2016. The NPS-RTCA program provides technical assistance to communities working on conservation and outdoor recreation based projects around the country. Brandon’s RTCA work has focused on developing large landscape, multi-agency recreation management plans; local and regional trail plans; and local outdoor education and community stewardship program development. Brandon has supported many projects all over the state of Utah such as trail planning in Utah County and river restoration work in Carbon County. Some of Brandon’s recent work has included supporting the development of the Sun Corridor Trail across Arizona and the White Pine County Recreation Action Plan in Nevada. He has an interest in planning in the urban-wild interface and enjoys the opportunities RTCA provides to help communities preserve open space and help people access the outdoors. In his free time, Brandon enjoys camping, backpacking, and gardening with his wife and daughter.

Dayton Crites

Lelia Mellen

Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program – Outdoor Recreation Planner

Lelia has worked for the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program for more than 25 years. She recently began focusing on RTCA projects in Montana. She works with partners to help them with their outdoor recreation and conservation initiatives. She shares her water trail management, organizational and fundraising experience, as well as conservation expertise with a variety of groups – from non-profits to state and federal agencies. Lelia helped start the National Water Trail System in 2012. Lelia received her Master of Environmental Management from Duke University and her Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Dartmouth College.

Dayton Crites

Ryan Kelly

Flaming Gorge Chamber of Commerce, Flaming Gorge Marketing Director

Professional Dad who annoys his kids by failing to put away the camera. “Dad! Didn’t you get enough content already?”

Dayton Crites

Adam Lavender

Bureau of Land Management, Outdoor Recreation Planner

Adam has worked for ten years in public lands, beginning his career as a seasonal Park Ranger with the National Park Service before transitioning to a job with the Bureau of Land Management as a Park Ranger. Adam has recently given up the ranger life for a career as an Outdoor Recreation Planner with the BLM based out of Vernal. In his free time Adam enjoys mountain biking as much as possible in the summer and skiing as much as possible in the winter.

Dayton Crites

Naweed Shakoori

Naweed Shakoori’s journey from adversity to resilience epitomizes his steadfast commitment to positive change and finding solace in nature. With a background in the human resources directorate of the Afghan Presidential Administration, Naweed brings a rich perspective shaped by diverse experiences. His dedication to promoting youth leadership and advocating for girls’ rights was exemplified during his tenure as Vice President of AIESEC, a global youth-driven organization focused on peace and human potential.

Despite facing escalating threats, Naweed’s unwavering dedication to empowering youth persisted, leading him to seek refuge with his family in Pakistan. There, he found solace and renewal through the simple joy of hiking. Settling in Utah in December 2023, Naweed eagerly embraced the opportunity to explore the majestic trails of the intermountain west.

Today, Naweed continues to champion youth empowerment and democratic values while immersing himself in the serenity of Utah’s wilderness. His newest initiative aims to introduce fellow Afghans to the outdoors, fostering community connections and providing the therapeutic benefits of nature that have profoundly impacted his own life.

Dayton Crites

Bryce Somsen

Caribou County, Commissioner 

Bryce Somsen grew up in a small mountain valley town (Wayan) in Caribou County Idaho. The Somsen Family homesteaded the South East corner of the valley in the late 1800’s, and his Grandfather established a lumber company there in 1937. Bryce currently runs Somsen Lumber along with being a commissioner for Caribou County. Bryce began his education at Utah State University, transferred to Boise State, and finished with a degree in ecology from Idaho State University in 2004. This degree has been fundamental in active forest management for Somsen Lumber. In 2016, Bryce ran for commissioner and was seated as such in 2017. Bryce loves this corner of the world and has always been willing to share it. He serves as President of the Caribou Loop Trail, and the Caribou Forest Initiative, is a member of the tri-county trail grooming committee, built the Soda Springs Disc Golf Course with his wife, and has been instrumental in getting the Caribou Events Center off the ground. Bryce is an avid motorcyclist which is the basis of the Caribou Loop Trail. Just about any outdoor activity is on his list of hobbies: snowmobiles, skiing, snowshoeing, SxS’s, mountain bikes, kayaks, white water rafting, disc golf, hiking, and building classic cars.

Dayton Crites

Tom Lang

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Recreation & Trails Coordinator

Tom has been working to solve problems in resource conservation and outdoor recreation management since 2010. Having lived and worked in eleven states, he’s gained experience with various government agencies as well as regional non-profits. In 2018, he received the Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Research Award from the U.S. Forest Service for his graduate thesis at the University of Montana. Throughout his career, Tom has focused on modernizing public engagement approaches so that community needs can be better incorporated into public sector planning and decision making. With the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Tom works with community leaders and agency partners to ensure the Trail Stewardship Grant Program representatively allocates public funds across the state to support community-led projects.

Dayton Crites

Joe Porter

Dirty Dino Gravel Grinder, Race Organizer

Joe Porter grew up in Preston Idaho where me met his wife Kelsie. They then moved to Boise for undergraduate education. They fell in love with mountain and road biking in the Boise foothills. After graduate school at the University of Utah he and his family moved to Vernal in 2012. He and Kelsie with their 3 children love the outdoor opportunities that Vernal provides. The high Uintas to the North and West, the rivers to the East, and the beautiful desert to the South create an amazing variety found few other places. 3 years ago opportunity and good people allowed the beginning of the Dirty Dino Gravel Grinder. A dream come true that allowed Uintah County the ability to showcase our great outdoors to more people. 

Elizabeth Sodja

Gateway & Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative, Program Coordinator 

Elizabeth Sodja, MNR, MCMP, is the Program Coordinator for the Gateway & Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative at Utah State University (USU) Extension. She has a decade of communications and community outreach experience and has worked with federal, state, and local government agencies. Before joining GNAR, she worked for USU’s Center for Community Engagement and the National Park Service. She grew up in a small town in Utah where most family vacations were either camping, fishing, or in a National Park, and has a passion for helping small towns around the west preserve what is special about them. When she isn’t working, you can usually find her and her husband climbing a rock, living out of a tent, or driving down a dirt road covered in dog hair.

Kurt Gensheimer

Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, Program Manager

Kurt has worked as a freelance writer in the outdoor industry for the last 20 years, writing for publications, non-profits, industry brands and state tourism agencies in Utah, Oregon and Nevada, promoting trails and mountain biking as the tool for economic development. As Program Manager for SBTS, Kurt manages a half dozen different trail projects in the Northern Sierra Nevada, all of which play a crucial role in the larger Connected Communities project. In his personal time, through a partnership with Great Basin Institute, Kurt spearheaded the resurrection of the non-Wilderness portion of the Toiyabe Crest Trail, a 72-mile National Recreation Trail in the Toiyabe range of Nevada, an iconic trail that hasn’t seen maintenance in nearly 40 years.

James Clark

IMBA, Vice President- Trail Solutions

James Clark has been working in the outdoor industry his entire career. Born and raised in Atlantic, Canada, he received his outdoor recreation degree from the University of New Brunswick. His more than 30-year career spans working with governments, nonprofits and consulting across Canada and the United States. Since 2010, he has lived in California, joining the IMBA team in 2016 and currently is the Senior Vice President of Trail Solutions.

Patrick Harrington

Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation, State Director

Patrick grew up in the mountains, rivers, and sagebrush country of northwest Wyoming. Being from Greybull, WY, he was a quick drive from some of the finest open country in the lower 48. Patrick graduated from the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and has spent his professional career as a leader in recreation and conservation. Patrick joined the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation office from Curt Gowdy State Park, where he Superintendent of one of Wyoming’s busiest State Parks, a park well known for its trails which include an IMBA Epic. Before his time with Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites, Patrick was the Director of the Wyoming Conservation Corps, which connects young adults to meaningful national service opportunities improving Wyoming’s public lands. Patrick enjoys fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, skiing and anything else that lets him spend time outside with his family.

Maggie Cawley

Open Streets Map, Executive Director 

Maggie Cawley serves as the Executive Director for OpenStreetMap US, joining OSM US in 2019 after 15 years as a geospatial professional. As the largest collaborative, freely editable geospatial database of the world, OpenStreetMap sits at the intersection of open data, private industry and government services and has a wide spectrum of stakeholders. In her role, Maggie works to engage, support and grow OSM and its community across the United States through advocacy, education, and events like the annual State of the Map US conference. One of her favorite hometown hikes is the Texas Beach trail along the mighty James River.

Elisabeth Johnson

Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation, Deputy Administrator 

As Deputy Administrator of Nevada’s Division of Outdoor Recreation (NDOR), Elisabeth works to advance and promote sustainable, world-class outdoor recreation opportunities across Nevada. Before her current role, Elisabeth was NDOR’s Program Officer, leading the division’s work with non-motorized trail organizations, increasing community capacity for outdoor recreation and stewardship in order to advance Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy. Prior to her service to the State of Nevada, she worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years, collaborating with global outdoor retail companies and local, grassroots trail organizations. Elisabeth is an avid outdoorswoman, spending her free time skiing, mountain biking, and trail running. She was raised in Seattle, Washington, and received her MS in Kinesiology from California State University, East Bay.

Jason Blankenagel

Sunrise Engineering, Engineer

As a professional engineer and outdoor enthusiast, Jason has brought his planning and design expertise to help Uintah, Duchesne, and Daggett counties in Northeastern Utah tackle the needs for outdoor recreation and trails. This has included the completion of the Uintah Trails Master Plan, the Dagget County Trails Master Plan, the Duchesne County Trails Master Plan, and the Uintah County OHV Plan. He has also assisted the communities in securing funding for and designing many of the trail projects from those plans ensuring their success in the communities. As a volunteer, Jason serves as chairman of the Utah State OHV Advisory Committee and is actively involved in the local trails and OHV committees in the Uintah Basin.

Sonya Popelka

Dinosaur National Monument – National Park Service Dark Sky Park Coordinator

After graduating from Colorado College with a major in Geology, Sonya has spent 25+ years working in Interpretation with the National Park Service and US Forest Service. Eleven of those years have been spent at Dinosaur National Monument where she supervises an amazing staff, works on interpretive media projects including trailside exhibits, loves to hike around on and off trail, and serves as Dinosaur’s Dark Sky Park coordinator through Dark Sky International.

Georgia Foster

Bureau of Land Management ,Outdoor Recreation Planner with the Bureau of Land Management

Chris Newton

Earthdiver Partnership Services, Partnership Developer

Chris Newton’s appreciation and curiosity for nature brought him to Utah from Michigan twenty four years ago when he accepted a ski job at Alta, Utah. The natural beauty of Utah and his love of skiing and outdoor recreation have kept him here. In 2007 Chris earned his master’s degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Utah. He has worked full-time in the recreation and tourism industry as a partnership developer for Earthdviver Partner Services in developing recreation and tourism websites and also began guiding part-time. This is where Chris developed a genuine interest in helping his clients build deeper and healing connections with the natural world through immersive experiences in forests and other natural settings. Chris is a certified forest bathing guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs and also has certified in Wilderness First Aid training. Chris is easy-going yet focused and his training includes special knowledge in guiding people of all ages and all seasons in Shinrin-Yoku, “Forest Bathing” walks and knowledge demonstrating the benefits of spending time in nature as a wellness practice and an effective way to manage stress and build a healthy life balance. Inspired by the fields of deep ecology and holistic health, Chris hopes to guide people to find their own connections to nature because when people are connected to nature the benefits are not confined to humans but work for the health and well-being of the entire biosphere.

Matt Eberhart

Matthew Eberhart is the State Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Coordinator for Arizona State Parks and Trails. He has been with the agency for 8 years. Prior to joining State Parks, he worked with the Arizona Game and Fish Department as part of the agency’s Off-Highway Vehicle Team developing curriculum for young riders. Matthew is an Arizona native with over 20 years of OHV experience. He currently lives in Surprise, AZ with his wife Meghan and son Killian. Matthew has been engaged in various OHV projects throughout the state with a variety of agency partners. He hopes to shed light on the unique outreach programs Arizona State Parks and Trails offers that can assist other states in the management of motorized and non-motorized recreation.

Greg Hilbig

Draper City Trails and Open Space, Trails and Open Space Manager

Draper City Trails and Open Space Manager 2007-Present USFS Wilderness Ranger/Wildland Firefighter 1999-2005 BS University of Utah, Natural Resources 1999 Avid trail runner and mountain biker 

Kqyn Kuka

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Tribal Liaison and Diversity Coordinator

Kqyn Kuka, a Pikuni woman born on the Blackfeet Indian reservation and raised in Great Falls, Montana, graduated from Salish Kootenai College with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. Hired as a Montana State Game Warden in 2007, she became one of only two female game wardens in the state’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks enforcement department, providing her with a deep understanding of gender equality, inclusion, and diversity dynamics. Over 12 years, she rose to become Montana’s first female sergeant within the department and currently serves as Tribal Liaison and Diversity Coordinator, the first to hold this position. Kqyn’s efforts bridge professional associations between state and tribal agencies, advocating for meaningful collaboration and amplifying tribal voices in state-level decision-making. Her ongoing dedication to advocating for tribal nations and diverse populations reflects her commitment to fostering understanding and empowerment across Montana.

Chase Pili

Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, OHV Program Manager

Chase Pili is a Native Utahn being brought up in the heart of Utah, Sanpete County. Being raised in Rural Utah, Chase has naturally found a love for the trails and waterways. He found his way to working as a Law Enforcement Ranger for Utah State Parks, and the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation for 11 years. Chase has a passion for educating, and protecting our recreating visitors. He loves providing meaningful opportunities to visit Utah in a unique way through Off-Highway Vehicle use. Chase Pili is the Off-Highway Vehicle Program Manager, but more importantly he is a user of this amazing sport!

Itinerary

Utah Trails Forum 2023 Agenda

Monday, May 13: On the Trail

7:30 - 9:00 AM

8:00 - 9:00 AM

  • Car-pool or shuttle to field sites

12:00 - 1:00 PM

  • Lunch and transit to afternoon activity (only applicable to half-day field workshops)

4:30 - 6:00 PM

  • Personal time

6:00 - 7:30 PM

  • Kickoff Dinner at Dinosaur National Monument
Utah Trails Forum 2023 Agenda

Tuesday, May 14: Pathways of Possibility

7:30 - 9:00 AM

9:00 - 9:20 AM

  • Opening Session: Welcome and Introductions

9:20 - 10:00 AM

  • "State of the Trails Panel moderated by Pitt Grewe of AllTrails: Panelists: Jason Curry (Utah), Patrick Harrington (Wyoming), Wendy Lotze (Arizona), Carol Colonius (New Mexico), Elisabeth Johnson (Nevada)"

10:00 - 10:30 AM

  • Networking Break

10:30 - 11:45 AM

  • Trail Town Topics: Using Outdoor Recreation to Diversify a Rural Economy
  • Trail Complexities and Remedies: Trail Design and Construction Considerations for E-Bikes
  • Revved Up! Motorized Trails: Connecting communities with Motorized Trails
  • Trail Mix: How to leverage the next generation of trail stewards

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

  • Lunch - Trail Experiences & Inspiration (T.E.I.) Talks: Naweed Shakoori, Kqyn Kuka

1:00 - 2:00 PM

  • Trail Town Topics: How to measure the economic impact of trails for messaging in your community
  • Trail Complexities and Remedies: Key Partnerships in the Trail Development Process
  • Revved Up! Motorized Trails: Campfire Sessions: Partner Discussions on OHV issues, Trends, and Successes
  • Trail Mix: Trail Skills and Education Roundtable

2:00 - 2:30 PM

  • Networking Break

2:30 - 3:30 PM

  • Trail Town Topics: Long Distance Trails - Connecting Trail Towns
  • Trail Complexities and Remedies: Effective communication and planning: Going beyond social media to reach the recreating public and collect feedback
  • Revved Up! Motorized Trails: Creating a Successful OHV Outreach Program
  • Trail Mix: Emergency Response on the Trail

3:30 - 4:00 PM

  • Insights from a Legacy of Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness Stewardship - Chris Hartman

4:00 - 6:00 PM

  • Sip, Socialize, and Share: Evening Social with Poster presentations. Nonalcoholic beverages and complimentary beer will be served with some tasty appetizers.

Evening

  • Dine & Discover: Taste Your Way Through Vernal - Dinner on your own

Wednesday, May 15: New Ideas Day

8:30 - 9:00 AM

9:00 - 9:20 AM

  • Welcome and Introductions

9:20 - 10:00 AM

  • Morning Keynote - JD Tanner, Leave No Trace

10:00 - 10:30 AM

  • Networking Break

10:30 - 11:45 AM

  • Trail Town Topics: Trails After Dark: Night Skies Tourism and Trail Connections
  • Trail Complexities and Remedies: Inclusive Mountain Biking Trails: The Guidelines & The Benefits
  • Revved Up! Motorized Trails: The Ins and Outs of Winter Trails & Travel
  • Trail Mix: Trail Building Two-Step: The Dance of Developing Trails from Idea to Construction

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

  • Lunch - Lunch Keynote: Conflict Solves Problems: Orienting Conflict Towards a Better Destination - Jordan Katcher

1:00 - 2:00 PM

  • Trail Town Topics: Rural Outdoor Communities: Leveraging the Potential of the Outdoors at the Heart of Rural Communities
  • Trail Complexities and Remedies: Resurrecting the Toiyabe Crest Trail
  • Revved Up! Motorized Trails: Lessons learned from creating and using trails master plans to help shape the destiny of trails in NE Utah
  • Trail Mix: OpenStreetMap US's Trails Stewardship Initiative: New Collaborations for Responsible Recreation

2:00 - 2:30 PM

  • Networking Break

2:30 - 3:30 PM

  • Trail Town Topics: If you build it and they come, then what? Trends in gateway communities and how to prepare your community for the changes that come when you become a destination
  • Trail Complexities and Remedies: What About a Water Trail?!
  • Revved Up! Motorized Trails: Protecting Access to Public Lands: R.S.2477, TMPs, and other Acronyms You Should Know
  • Trail Mix: Emergency Response on the Trail

3:30 - 4:00 PM

  • Closing Remarks & Opportunity Drawing from Mainstage

Field Workshops

**For a detailed description of each field workshop, click HERE!

2024 Sponsors

Platinum

Bronze

Dinner Sponsor

Exhibitors & Product Sponsors

Hotels & Event Lodging

Holiday Inn Express

1515 West Hwy 40, Vernal, UT

 (435) 789-4654

To book, call or click HERE.

Mention MWT for discounted rate of $169/night.

Springhill Suites by Marriott

1205 West Hwy 40, Vernal, UT

(435) 781-9000

Call and mention MWT for discounted rate.

Quality Inn

1684 West Hwy 40, Vernal, UT

(435) 789-9550

Call to book. $99/night.

Welcome to Dinosaurland - Vernal, Utah!

Utah’s “Dinosaurland” is an exciting destination for outdoor recreation and taking a step back into prehistory. Visitors can enjoy a variety of museums and historical sites, outdoor activities, exploring, and relaxation in rugged nature. Vernal and the rest of Uintah County, Utah has always been a land of adventure, for millions of years! We invite you to come experience your own adventure in Dinosaurland.

 

Things to See:

Dinosaur National Monument

One of the main draws to Vernal is Dinosaur National Monument. Visitors to this special place get to see an entire rock wall full of real fossils! Some bones are even available for touching. Adults and children alike can have a great time together as they step back in time at this unique monument.

State Parks

Dinosaurland has 3 Utah state parks and a state park museum. Each park offers unique scenery and places to explore. The state parks are great places to go to spot local wildlife, too. Learn more about what the state parks have to offer as you plan your trip to Dinosaurland.

Museums

From the time of the dinosaurs to today, the Vernal area is full of history. There are multiple museums available for year-round visiting where you can learn about the life, culture, and events in Utah’s Dinoland.

Ashley National Forest

On the north end of Uintah County is Ashley National Forest, a beautiful and large stretch of wooded area where visitors can hike, ride horses and ATVs, camp, fish, and more. If you know where to look, you can even find some ancient petroglyphs that were left behind by the early inhabitants that called this forest home. Check out one of the most peaceful areas in Dinosaurland that is definitely worth adding to your itinerary!

Click here to check out some of the other popular things to see in the Vernal, Utah area.

Things to Do:

Hit the Trails

Criss-crossing all across Uintah County are endless trails for exploring. You’ll never run out of trails for hiking, ATVs, mountain biking, and other activities. Check out this helpful trail guide to choosing where you’ll go for your favorite activities.

River Rafting

Some of the rivers in Dinoland are good for easy-going rafting for when you want to relax and see the landscape from the river. But the Green River also has a stretch of Class III and Class IV whitewater rapids that being thrill-seekers from all around the world! You’ll want to be sure to have an experienced river guide with you if you’re planning to raft the rough water. Learn more about rafting in Uintah County and prepare to get wet!

Scenic Drives

Many visitors enjoy seeing Utah’s incredibly varied landscape from the comfort of their vehicle on the open road. There are multiple routes across Dinosaurland that take you past canyons, lakes, forest and mountains. Along your drive, you’ll come across multiple tourist sites like dinosaur fossil beds and museums. Check out some of the more popular scenic drives that you may want to incorporate into your trip to Utah’s Dinosaurland.

 

Where to Eat:

Vernal is home to over 40 restaurants. There are some local favorites here that you don’t want to miss when you’re in town, including like Vernal Brewing Company, 7-11 Ranch, Antica Forma, and Swain Brothers. Choose any of these great local restaurants in the area and be sure to come hungry!