Utah is utilizing Recreational Trails Program funding to keep trail users safe
The state of Utah has used innovative programming to keep their citizens safe from avalanche dangers. Although they cannot completely prevent avalanches from occurring, they are educating the public through the Utah Avalanche Center about ways to avoid triggering an avalanche, and how to stay safe should one occur.
Since 1999 the Utah Avalanche Center (often in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service) has received Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funding several times, with tens of thousands of dollars going towards this initiative. Most recently, in both 2015 and 2017, the center used this funding for what they call, “Know Before You Go Avalanche Awareness and Education.” These funds were used to update and produce new videos to get avalanche information out to those who take part in snow based recreational activities, such as snowmobiling.
Some information can directly save lives. For example, most avalanches are caused by the victims of them, and there are steps to take to avoid triggering avalanches. Avoiding activities that cause loud noises, for instance, is vital to preventing an avalanche. To help with the success of these videos the center did several things – kept the videos short to keep attention spans, used well known trail users to share helpful tips about potential dangers, reached out through venues to trail users who traditionally had not had access to much avalanche awareness, and showed videos at family oriented venues. Additionally, the center gave away promotional material to help their message stick with trail users.
In 2017 the USDA Forest Service and state avalanche centers also received funds for a program called “Saving Lives with Avalanche Education,” with the express purpose of “Providing life-saving and time-critical avalanche information and forecasts, formal education and training in communities as well as at trailheads, gas stations, and in the field.” Programs such as this and the awareness and education initiative work together to both prevent avalanches before they happen, and to update trail users on real time information so they know areas to avoid and can keep track of conditions that have changed or become dangerous.
These projects, which will help keep snowmobilers and other trail users stay safe in Utah, are just some of thousands of projects funded every year through the Recreational Trails Program. If you have an RTP project you would like us to feature, please email [email protected], and let us know.