Horseshoe Bend in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, AZ.
Situated in northern Arizona and southern Utah, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is rich in indigenous artifacts, Mormon pioneer history, dinosaur bones, mesas, waterways and expansive scenic views.
Helping to spread the word about this landscape and other unique public lands in the Colorado Plateau is Glen Canyon Natural History Association (GCNHA), a nonprofit based in Page, AZ.
GCNHA partners with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation to provide education to visitors and to operate retail sales at seven visitor centers. This year, they plan to open their eighth store in downtown Page.
According to GCNHA’s Executive Director Martin Stamat, this eighth store will be the first location independently owned by the nonprofit.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to build stronger relationships with the Page community and to help grow this area as a recreation destination,” Stamat said. “We’ve had our eyes set on this store for some time now, and we’re looking forward to offering outdoor gear items as well as publications focused on the area.”
Stamat explained that the store will fill specific needs for visitors who would be unlikely to find needed items in the area.
“The closest outdoor gear store to Page is at least 80 miles away. For visitors that want to take a day hike or pitch a tent in one of the campgrounds, there is no retail option in Page. With our store, visitors will be able to purchase lightweight backpacking gear, safety items, convenience items, and maps so they can better plan their trip.”
The GCNHA crew is at work to open their eighth retail location later this year.
Cherry Odelberg, Retail Manager for GCNHA added that while the location will be independently-owned and offsite of public lands, all of the products sold will carry an interpretive message that is true to the nonprofit’s mission and to their partnership agreements with their land management agencies.
“Our nonprofit’s main focus is to interpret the landscape for visitors and to help them have an enjoyable and safe visit. While we technically don’t need approval from our land management agency partners to sell in this specific store, we will still hit those approval marks because we believe in offering high quality, educational products and publications to visitors.”
Cherry Odelberg, GCNHA Retail Manager poses with the new store, under construction.
Strengthening Relations With Page as a Gateway Community
For both Stamat and Odelberg, one aspect they are most excited about is supporting Page as a gateway community and having a bigger presence there.
“At this point, we can honestly say that few people in the community know about us. While we have an existing office space in town, this new store located right in the middle of town will be an opportunity for us to better connect,” Stamat said.
He also explained that by connecting better with the community, he believes the nonprofit will be able to reach more people, grow some of their existing programs and add some new as well.
Their Glen Canyon Field School, for example, is an education program they lead to provide multi-day photography trips, backpacking trips, and paleontology and archaeology tours. As word begins to spread in the community, they hope that both locals and tourists will take advantage of these unique trips.
Going forward, the nonprofit also plans to offer short, reasonably priced day-trip opportunities such as slot canyon hikes, short kayak trips, and yoga in the park. Their goal being to make opportunities accessible to a diverse range of visitors, no matter their budget.
Photo from "Lens on the Lake" Glen Canyon Field School Program; Credit: Gary Ladd.
Continuing Education and Partnership in Changing Times
In addition to supporting the Glen Canyon Natural Recreation Area, GCNHA also supports Rainbow Bridge National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through philanthropy and interpretive sales.
With recent uncertainty as to how Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s boundaries will be defined, the nonprofit states that it will be there to support its partner, the Bureau of Land Management, no matter what the boundaries may be, and will continue to engage positively to share the benefits this area has to offer.
“We want people to come here, to see how amazing these places are, and to leave with more understanding and appreciation,” Stamat said.
“The area we help support is truly a springboard for those who are visiting Bryce Canyon or Zion or the Grand Canyon. This area also has a history of multi-use with grazing leases on national park property, extraction in the Grand Staircase region, and with a variety of recreation options like canyoneering, climbing, horseback riding, and boating,” Stamat continued.
“It’s truly a place for everybody. Our nonprofit’s mission is to help people understand its value and to enjoy it responsibly. We look forward to working with partners and communities to continue to share that message,” Stamat said.
To learn more about Glen Canyon Natural History Association’s work and about their new store opening, visit their website at http://www.glencanyonnha.org.