Park City is home to 8,374 full-time residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimate for 2022. There’s over 600 species of fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians in the state of Utah, based on estimates from the Bureau of Land Management, and many of these can be found in the Park City area like moose, deer, elk, bats, bears, coyotes and snakes. While Park City is a fun place for humans to live, visit and sometimes over love, it is increasingly important to protect the place that so many other creatures call home.
“At the chamber, we believe that wildlife, maintenance of streams and trails, and every single entity is worth investing in so we have a holistic community, and one that has its eyes on sustainability,” said Dan Howard, vice president of communications for the Park
City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. “Right now, we can set down laws that we hope will live past us and create the long-range vision of Summit County.”
Many towns in the U.S. have a chamber of commerce, where the mission is to look after the health of the business community. Park City, however, is taking a more universal view of what supporting the business community means. The Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau is concerned with the health of the whole community and the quality of
life for every living creature, Howard said.
“Our sustainable tourism plan, and my role, is focusing on bringing balance to the community’s three parts — visitor experience, resident experience and the local environment,” said Morgan Mingle, the organization’s director of sustainable tourism. “We’re making sure everyone is supported during every step of this long-term process.”
Mingle’s role adapts and changes as needed. When she started in February 2022, her role focused on production of the sustainable tourism plan. Now, it’s about executing that plan.
Next steps, Mingle said, are working with the newly hired visitor experience manager to focus on guest experiences and educating the public with engaging content in the Kimball Junction Visitor Center. It’s not just the chamber that is looking to support a more sustainable community, but the Park City Community Foundation as well. In April, the foundation’s Climate Fund revealed a resolute goal to fully divert food waste from Summit County’s landfill by 2030.
Since the seventies, Park City has lost nearly six weeks of winter due to climate change, according to the foundation. In a town where winter is a big draw, that is alarming.
“There’s also groups like Leave No Trace around town that promote car-free
visitation,” Howard said. “You can land at the Salt Lake City International Airport, shuttle up to Park City and use the free transit system the whole time you’re here. We’re one of the only mountain towns in the country where you can be car-free.”
The sustainable living plan for the town is forward facing, Mingle said. The goal is to show residents what it means to be a sustainable destination, where work is done toward this goal every day of the week.
Howard described the chamber’s approach with a HOME acronym — heritage, outdoor recreation industry, management of visitors and economy — to outline ways to look after the community. Heritage means taking care of the silver mining history and resources,
while outdoor recreation industry focuses on preserving everything in the outdoor environment. Management of visitors examines resources at trailheads and around town to help residents and visitors recreate respectfully. In terms of economy, the chamber wants to make sure people still visit during peak times and in tandem use the tools mentioned to make these surges sustainable.
In addition to this approach, the chamber also has supported 24 grants to local groups and businesses totaling $300,000 to encourage best practices in sustainability. The average donation was $12,000 for organizations that are in alignment with the chamber’s goals.
“This role is going to continue to shift, adapt and change, depending on pressures due to tourism economy,” Mingle said. “We’re always keeping this long-range ideal of balance in mind, but we’re adaptable as the world changes.”
The visitparkcity.com webpage has many more tips and a plethora of information, such as how to approach wildlife and how to help if you see any sort of danger.
“We’re aggressive with our protective, holistic view of our town and making sure we still have one in 50 years,” Howard said. “Park City is on the leading edge of that, and I think more bureaus will soon do what we’re doing.”