Gateway communities (such as towns and rural areas outside of national parks) and amenity communities (such as ski resort towns) throughout the western United States and nationally face a variety of concerns associated with rapid growth and increases in tourism. These challenges range from congestion and overwhelmed transportation systems to lack of affordable housing and negative impacts on community character.
Surprisingly, while the unique transportation and planning-related challenges of gateway and amenity communities have, to some extent, been noted in recreation and tourism research, these concerns are largely overlooked in planning scholarship. This study will examine the unique transportation, mobility, and access to opportunity related challenges being experienced by gateway and amenity communities throughout the western U.S. It will also explore opportunities for these communities to address identified issues, such as through capacity building and knowledge transfer, and will illuminate pathways for future planning research. It will do so through a multi-pronged approach, which will include in-depth interviews with planners and other key public officials from 15-20 western gateway and amenity communities; on online survey of planners and other key public officials in gateway and amenity communities throughout the west; and in-depth case studies of the Zion National Park, Utah, and Bonner County, Idaho, regions.
In light of the dearth of planning scholarship on this topic, we anticipate this study will result in multiple peer-reviewed journal articles and popular press publications documenting (1) the unique transportation, mobility, and access to opportunity challenges facing gateway and amenity communities in the mountain west; and (2) opportunities for addressing these concerns and lessons learned from leading communities. We also anticipate developing a variety of tools and approaches to transfer knowledge among affected communities, including via a website platform and an in-person peer-to-peer learning summit that will be hosted at the University of Utah. Multiple graduate students will be involved in conducting this study via research assistantships and a graduate level applied workshop course focusing on gateway and amenity community transportation and planning concerns.