Moab Field Office Recreation Program, Economic Contribution and Visitation
The Moab Field Office has a diverse and extensive recreation program. The red rock scenery in the Moab area is iconic and is highly sought after by local, national and international visitors. Features such as the Colorado River, Fisher Towers, Castle Rock, Slickrock Bike Trail and Gemini Bridges attract visitors from all over the world, who recreate both privately and by hiring commercial outfitters for river trips.
Arches National Park is enveloped by lands managed by the Moab Field Office; Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park are located along the field office’s western boundary.
Visitation to BLM lands in the Moab Field Office is very high, totaling approximately 1.8 million visits in 2012. This visitation exceeds that of Arches National Park. Table 1 displays the average number of recreation visits over the past five years to both Moab Field Office and Arches National Park lands.
Table 1: Recreation Visits to Moab Field Office and Arches National Park over a Five Year Period
Visits to Moab Field Office
Visits to Arches National Park
Visitation to the Moab area grew at a 9% rate during the 1990’s, but has since leveled off to an approximately 2% yearly growth rate. Thus, it is anticipated that recreation visitation will continue to grow, but at this lower rate (Economic Value of Public Lands in Grand County, Utah, 2011, Headwaters Economics).
The recreation programs provided by the Moab Field Office, including the campground program, are particularly important to the Grand County economy. A recent study commissioned by Grand County and conducted by Headwaters Economics (Economic Value of Public Lands in Grand County, Utah, 2011) found that the economy of Grand County is heavily dependent upon public lands recreation use. It is unlikely that any other county in the United States that is surrounded by BLM lands is as heavily dependent on public recreation lands for its economic well-being.
The most reliable information on visitor demographics, such as from where visitors to Moab BLM originate, comes from 2006 data gathered for the National Visitation Use Monitoring (NVUM) study. This was prepared by the U.S. Forest Service (U.S. National Forest Service, 2007) for the Moab BLM. Results from this survey indicate that the great majority of recreation visitors to Moab BLM travel large distances to come to the area.