Proximity of national parks ‘exquisite torture’ for 2011 conference-goers

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It was hard to determine just where to begin when it came to bragging about having my home state host the 2011 annual OWAA conference and what that means to our members and supporting groups. So, like many others appointed as local committee chair, I had others do my work for me when OU started publishing articles about the 2011 event.
Thanks to Hollie Brown of Utah State Parks, Mark Hadley of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Patrick O’Driscoll of the National Park Service for whetting our appetites in previous editions of OU with their descriptions of the plethora of stories and memories that await you here in Utah.
I have avoided my duties long enough and now, having entered the actual calendar year of the conference, it is time to get serious.
I’m not only excited about the conference returning to Utah (we were in St. George in 2001 and Salt Lake City in 1990), but also that the annual gathering of this country’s best outdoor writers is coming back to the West and will truly be held in the mountains.
That’s right. No need to drive anywhere to do a story. Just look out your window each morning and there it is. Nothing against any of the previous conference locales or states, but, well, Utah rocks.
Granted, as a lifelong resident I am a little biased.
The folks at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, the Utah Office of Tourism, OWAA headquarters and my local conference committee, including Tom Wharton and Brian Brinkerhoff, and Conference Program Chair Mark Taylor, are working hard to create a solid list of pre- and post-conference trips that will lead to stories and pay for your conference expenses.
For a list of tours, visit, and I hope you will be pleased with the diversity found there.
Also, we are working to create sponsored trips by building relationships between our supporting groups and tour providers.
Trout Unlimited partnered with Daggett County to sponsor the Fish Flaming Gorge trip. This free guided fly-fishing adventure takes place on the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northeastern Utah. The Green is known well by anglers as one of the most productive and scenic fisheries in the world. Spots are limited, so register as soon as possible.
Are you a supporting group interested in sponsoring a trip like this? If so, contact me at Don’t sweat the details; trips are already lined up. Visit the OWAA conference website (listed above) to view trips offered.
Featured trips range from multi-day whitewater rafting to mountain biking on high mountains in southern Utah. Tours of state museums loaded with ancient peoples’ artifacts and dinosaur bones await you. There are 20 National Park Service units within a day’s drive of Snowbird.
Wildlife stories include innovative fishing regulations on blue ribbon trout waters, to the world record non-typical bull elk (a.k.a. the Spider Bull), to some of the most important shorebird and waterfowl habitat on the continent.
If you are looking for something a little more gripping, Utah has its fair share of issue-related topics, including: invasive species, wild mustangs, bark beetles and stream access.
As the program chair, Taylor is dedicated to making sessions valuable tools to help each attendee become a better writer, photographer, videographer, blogger or all of the above.
He and I have talked about, and with, several possible keynote speakers. Nothing has been finalized as of yet, but we are excited about the possibilities.
The hot topic in the West has been wolf management and we are working on building a panel to discuss the issue.
Shooting day will be held at the Lee Kay Center for Hunter Education in the Salt Lake Valley. This world-class facility was also used at the 1990 OWAA conference, receiving raves reviews. Personnel and volunteer Hunter Safety instructors from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are excited to once again host OWAA – and to see all the new firearms before their buddies do.
We are all reaching out to local outdoor-related businesses, and there are a ton of them in Utah and the surrounding states, encouraging them to get involved in OWAA, sharing their stories and gear with our members. I can’t say enough about the amazing staff at Snowbird. They are helping OWAA figure out the best way to accommodate the various needs of attendees.
Taylor and I set a goal for attendance at the Snowbird Conference and we feel the best way to reach that lofty number is by providing three days full of quality, educational and productive sessions surrounded by a wide variety of trips before and after our long weekend at one of the most scenic conference sites in recent memory.
All that said, we still seek advice and tips on how to make it the best conference ever. So, if you have thoughts, concerns or crazy ideas you think merit our attention, please e-mail them to me. ♦
— Brett Prettyman is the 2011 OWAA Conference Local Committee Chair. A member since 1992, he is also a member of the OWAA Board of Directors. Prettyman is also an outdoor/recreation writer for The Salt Lake Tribune and author of “Fishing Utah,” second edition. Contact him at>

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