Millcreek Canyon near Salt Lake City, courtesy the Tribune
Since his graduation from Preston High School 12 years ago, Matt Durrant has made a name for himself as a composer of symphony-level music—and as an advocate of outdoor ethics.
He was recently honored for the latter at a ceremony hosted by the National Forest Service in Salt Lake City. Last spring, Durrant landed a job with Camp Tracey, a Boy Scouts of America camp for 11-year-olds in Mill Canyon that sits at the base of the Mt. Olympus Wilderness Area.
Because youth travel through the area on their 5-mile hike, Durrant saw a possibility for the kids to earn a series of patches through a program developed by the National Forest Service that educates them on using the nation’s wilderness areas respectfully.
He quickly saw the possibility of a partnership between the National Forest Service and BSA and worked to help hundreds of youth and adults gain an appreciation of the wilderness area.
“The program is for public, but mostly Scouts because we’ve had some of them be not respectful,” he said.
When Durrant contacted the Forest Service to get patches for the boys, the agency quickly realized they would have to make more – Durrant wanted almost 500 patches, and they only had a few dozen on hand.
“I used up their entire supply in the first week. We were able to spread that message (of leaving no trace and being more respectful to nature) to all the 11-year-old scouts,” said Durrant. In the process, he developed a curriculum other leaders can use, and now runs all “Leave No Trace” training within the three scouting councils in Utah.
“In recognition of promoting the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests Leave No Trace and Experience the Wilderness initiative ‘Earn a Patch’ program in 2016 at Camp Tracey,” states a certificate he was recently presented in appreciation for his leadership at a recent outdoor ethics training program held by the Great Salt Lake Council of the BSA.
“Matt is a master trainer for the ‘Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly’ programs,” said Dave Hatch, Forest Landscape Architect and Recreation Specialist of Scenery, Wilderness and Trails with the Unitah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Supervisors’ Office.
“He brought the Trapper Trails, Great Salt Lake, and Utah National Parks Council together with us to partner in teaching youth outdoor ethics.
“He was a significant player in seeing that Forest Service has been engaged with Salt Lake Council. He developed the curriculum for how we’d like to approach other councils next to wilderness areas, which are different from public lands,” said Hatch.
“Matt has been involved since beginning. The relationship has evolved and he has helped the Forest Service get out and involved when GSL Council has an event. We’ve also been in attendance at Scouting expos.”
The award “was well deserved and that’s why he was awarded at the BSA National Outdoor Ethics Conference,” said Paula Booth, the Western Region Outdoor Ethics Coordinator for the BSA. “He’s a hard working individual. We love him dearly,” she said.
Durrant currently lives in Salt Lake, where he is the father of two little girls. He is also finishing his PhD in music, for which he is writing a string quartet, as well as his dissertation. Eventually, he hopes to teach music at a university. For five years, he held a graduate teaching assistantship at the University of Utah.