In the early months of 2013, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert publicized the creation of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. Now, this innovative department has a leader to implement its vision: Brad Petersen, an outdoor enthusiast with two decades of corporate leadership experience.
The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, and Petersen’s position in general, underscores the critical nature of advancing economic development in the outdoor industry and expanding recreational prospects in Utah. It also points to the necessity of guaranteeing a fair and responsible approach to developing, improving and protecting public lands.
In his role, Petersen will work closely with numerous state agencies and departments, including the Utah Office of Tourism and its “Life Elevated” campaign.
“I have the ability to collaborate with various groups,” Petersen says. “I have come to appreciate the ‘Life Elevated’ brand and its ability to sell recreational opportunities.”
Petersen says his four primary objectives are first, to foster and grow the outdoor recreation economy; second, to continue to promote Utah’s natural beauty; third, to act as a clearinghouse of communication to all outdoor-related stakeholders; and fourth, to protect our quality of life and economic vibrancy.
“My immediate goal has been to meet with the numerous stakeholders and just listen,” he says.
Petersen possesses vast experience in management and collaboration. For more than 20 years he has led organizations in various companies, including startups. He is an expert in creating corporate values and vision statements and in bringing together an organization’s resources, assets, functions and workforce to engineer a competitive gain.
Most recently, Petersen was COO and general manager at Combined Resources International L.P., a multinational firm based in San Diego, Calif.
And, of course, he is passionate about the outdoors, especially the splendor of Utah’s outdoors offerings. The natural beauty Utah boasts is the primary reason Petersen came back to his native state.
“What motivated me to return to Utah from San Diego was that I knew someone would fulfill this and make decisions that would affect Utah’s natural assets for many, many years,” he says. “I wanted to help create these policies.”
Aside from his impressive administrative experience in the corporate world, Petersen has spent more than 25 years of his life guiding, skiing, exploring, rafting, climbing, mountain biking, hunting and motorcycling.
As director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, Petersen is specifically focused on promoting recreational activities to adolescents.
“I want to make sure we have programs that help get Utahns, particularly the youth and minorities, outside to enjoy Utah’s natural beauty,” he says. “Youth is the primary focus. Kids who become active outdoors during kindergarten through 12th grade continue to participate the rest of their lives.”
Heading up a brand-new state of Utah office affords both challenges and opportunities. Petersen is grateful for the support of the governor’s office in making this transition smooth and satisfying. He is also pleased that Utah is the first state to have initiated an office of outdoor recreation.
“This doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country,” he says. “The governor and legislature are being very proactive. I hope what we create can be imitated. Utah is taking the lead. There is no better place than Utah to work, live and play.”