2020 National Planning Conference

Gateway and Natural Amenity Region Planning

Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 2:45 p.m. - 4 p.m. PDT

CM | 1.25

Location: 2014

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  • Explore the characteristics of a GNAR community and common development trajectories such communities follow, several unique challenges and opportunities that emerge at various stages of development, and promising ways to address them.
  • Develop touchpoints to collaborate with leaders in their community to identify, monitor, and respond to key indicators of change unique to GNAR communities.
  • Connect with practitioners and academics in other GNAR communities and benefit from the GNAR Initiative being developed at the University of Utah.


Gateway and natural amenity region (GNAR) communities are small municipalities abutting state and national parks, national forests, designated outdoor recreation areas, protected cultural sites, or other prominent public lands. They are often viewed as national treasures, hot tourist destinations, and desirable places to live and work. Some GNAR communities are at risk of being "loved to death"; others are eager for more tourism and recreation-related economic activity; and some have not yet been discovered and would prefer to not become tourist destinations.

As GNAR communities evolve, they tend to experience a variety of growth- and tourism-related impacts, ranging from congestion and sprawl to loss of community character and lack of affordable housing. This session begins with a brief presentation about the typical development trajectory, challenges, and opportunities facing GNAR communities. Hear a facilitated discussion about these challenges, what communities are doing to address them, promising solutions, and what tools, resources, and capacity building could help planners in GNAR communities protect the things that make these communities special. This session focuses on peer-to-peer learning and is relevant to practitioners and academics working in small rural towns throughout the country.

Session Speakers

McKay Edwards, AICP
Edwards Group LLC
Moab, UT

Zacharia Levine, AICP
Organizer and Speaker
Grand County and University of Utah
Moab, UT