ST. GEORGE — In response to record numbers of visitors, a national and digital “edutainment” campaign is expanding in Utah and throughout the West intending to inspire safe and respectful use of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The animated character “Spokespebble” is narrating a series of Conservation Lands Foundation videos in combination with the Bureau of Land Management, Nov. 6, 2023 | Image courtesy of Conservation Lands Foundation, St. George News
Through a series of cheeky yet earnest videos, social content and website resources, the “Respect. Connect. Protect” campaign showcases “Spokespebble,” who deeply cares about protecting nature, keeping people safe and helping them plan visits to these more remote, rugged, and sensitive landscapes, according to a news release from the Conservation Lands Foundation.
“We’re introducing Spokespebble as a voice for these public lands where more planning and preparation is needed to visit safely and in ways that respect the natural environment so that everyone else can enjoy them too,” Kris Deutschman, senior communications director for the Conservation Lands Foundation, said in a news release. “There’s unlikely to be cell coverage, water stations or rangers to help in many of these remote areas. Lack of awareness and preparation leads to people getting lost, stranded or worse, plus it can lead to degradation of Indigenous sacred sites, essential wildlife habitats and water sources.”
Specific BLM lands in Utah with local representatives available for interviews about the campaign include:
Bears Ears National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
Broader Moab region
The campaign is designed to speak to the next generation of visitors — especially Gen Z and Millennials — who are passionate about protecting natural resources and know how to influence the culture at large.
“Record numbers of visitors continue to venture into Utah public lands managed by the BLM beyond and between national parks, and there is currently no other large-scale collaborative effort that addresses the safety and other considerations specific to them,” Deutschman said.
More than 11 million people visited lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in 2022 in Utah (almost twice the number of visitors in 2013); and there are 123 National Conservation Land Units including three national monuments, 35 Wilderness areas and three National Historic and Scenic Trails in the state.
The national campaign is sponsored by the Conservation Lands Foundation, the nation’s only non-profit organization focused on protecting and expanding National Conservation Lands and other public lands managed by BLM. In collaboration with the BLM, campaign partners include: Leave No Trace, Tread Lightly, New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office and 40 community-led public land advocacy non-profits throughout the West.
The digital-first campaign seeks to empower visitors with practical tips on how to stay safe and protect the natural beauty as well as act respectfully and responsibly whether hiking, fishing, camping, OHVing and other activities on these more remote public lands.
Today’s national expansion of the campaign follows on the heels of a highly-successful limited introduction during the Spring. Find videos and resources at www.respectconnectprotect.org.
The Conservation Lands Foundation is a Durango, Colorado-based non-profit whose mission is to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands throughout the American West. Since 2007, the Conservation Lands Foundation in partnership with the Friends Grassroots Network has protected over 10 million acres of National Conservation Lands, adding over 150 units.
YouTube video below demonstrates “Spokespebble.”