HURRICANE – In spite of heavy rains, the 2017 “Winter 4×4 Jamboree” was a resounding success, with $27,300 raised and donated to land-use organizations and an estimated $1.6 million in economic impact to Southern Utah.
“Participation was up 20 percent from last year, and we donated $7,000 more than last year,” event director Jeff Bieber said.
“Even with all the rain, people showed up in large numbers to see our trails, and everyone had a good time.”
The third annual Winter 4×4 Jamboree was held Jan. 19-21. The event is sponsored and organized by Desert Roads and Trails Society – Desert RATS – a local nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting responsible use of public lands.
The event raised enough money to allow Desert RATS to donate $20,000 to the Utah Public Lands Alliance, a southern Utah group fighting to protect Sand Mountain; $7,000 to Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association; and $300 to the Blue Ribbon Coalition.
Heavy rains before and during the event did not dampen the spirits of four-wheel drive enthusiasts, although deep mud on a few trails made it necessary to move some participants to other runs.
During the event, more than 1,000 people in 520 vehicles were guided on 29 different trails, mostly in the Sand Mountain Special Recreation Management Area adjacent to Sand Hollow State Park. In addition, 130 volunteers helped guide trails and run the event.
About 80 percent of participants were from outside Southern Utah, with some traveling from as far away as Wisconsin. The majority came from Western states, including Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Idaho and Colorado.
The event generated $1.6 million in economic impact for Southern Utah, St. George Area Sports Commission Director Kevin Lewis said. The figure is based on a standard spending formula used by the Utah Sports Commission and other agencies in the state, he said.
“We really have a unique venue for off-road sports,” Lewis said. “Where else can find the combination of sand dunes, red rock and water recreation all together in one place?”
Having all that located within 20 minutes of a thriving community makes the area extremely valuable, Lewis added.
“The vision of setting aside Sand Mountain for off-road use was brilliant,” he said. “It provides an accessible playground for people who are interested in off-road adventure, and there is a significant need for that … we support these great events and we are thrilled to showcase the incredible venue we have here.”
The Winter 4×4 Jamboree is one of five major off-road events hosted in Washington County each year, Lewis said, of which the combined benefit to the area is $4-$6 million.
“The market for this has grown substantially over the past few years, and through the efforts of some great organizations we’ve been able to grow the opportunity in the area,” he said.
“Off-road adventure a valuable component in the broad range of outdoor recreation available here. It sets us apart as a destination that is energized by nature and rewarded through the opportunities of sports and outdoor recreation.”
According to a survey by Winter 4×4 Jamboree organizers, event participants spent an average of 6.4 days in Southern Utah. Expenditures included event registration, food, lodging, fuel and vehicle repairs.
- St. George Area Sports Commission website
- Winter 4×4 Jamboree Facebook page, website
- Desert RATS Facebook page
- Utah Public Lands Alliance website
- Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association Facebook page, website
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