URBAN RANGERS

By Andrew Thompson Landerghini, New Media Specialist at University Marketing and Communications

Situated just above campus, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a resource that most universities cannot offer its students, staff and community. It’s a place of serenity and solitude for many, and a great outlet for the hundreds of hikers, bikers, runners and dog walkers each day. With all that activity though, unsightly byproducts can arise and conflicts, while rare, can occur. That’s why the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (PRT) has partnered with the National Parks Service to develop a unique opportunity—”urban rangers” to serve the trail.

These ambassadors will work in pairs on mountain bikes, traveling the length of the trail, from the Hogle Zoo to the top of Dry Creek Canyon, four to five days a week. They’ll clean up litter and dog waste and hand out dog (and human) treats. They’ll also be available to discuss public land stewardship, trail etiquette and environmental education. Five U students will be selected to lead this initial phase, with each of them responsible for coordinating student volunteers throughout the semester to participate in riding activities.

Aside from beautifying the trail (not to mention helping protect one of Salt Lake City’s most fragile watersheds) and providing treats for trail users, the Urban Ranger Program is also a chance to engage youth in healthy outdoor recreation activities. And, data collected will be used by the Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Tourism Laboratory to evaluate and for interested agencies to replicate.

Nate Furman, a PRT professor and one of the project’s collaborators, expects the initiative to expand beyond the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to other trails, such as the Jordan River Trail next January. It will also be used as a teaching tool for all the students majoring in PRT, as it’ll be integrated into the core curriculum and used as a case study on recreation programming and outdoor recreation participation.

Locally based Black Diamond Equipment will be donating uniforms for the Urban Rangers Program. “Black Diamond has always been a great supporter of outdoor recreation in Salt Lake City, and we’re really grateful that they are a partner in this endeavor,” Furman said.

Sally Jewell, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, is expected to mention the program during her visit to Salt Lake city next month, and the urban rangers will be on the trail by Sept. 8. Be on the lookout and enjoy the goodies.