What Is The Gateway & Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative?

The GNAR Initiative exists to help Western gateway communities, their regions, and public lands around them thrive and preserve the things that make them special. The Initiative does this by leveraging our three pillars – research, education, and capacity building – to help communities and land managers throughout the West prepare and respond to challenges.

Our Three Pillars:

Our Top Resources:


GNARly Blog

The GNAR Netowrk

Webinar Series

What is a "Gateway" Community?:

Small cities and towns outside of significant natural amenities such as national parks, public lands, ski areas, and scenic rivers throughout the western United States are becoming increasingly popular places to visit and live. As a result, many of these "gateway" and natural amenity region ( or GNAR) communities grapple with  “big city” issues, including severe congestion, lack of affordable workforce housing, and concerns about sprawl.

Is there a formal definition of a "Gateway" Community?:

Yes! In their 2020 article in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Dr. Danya Rumore and Dr. Philip Stoker Stoker defined a "gateway community" as:

  1. A census designated place (CDP) of 150-20,000 people
  2. Within 10 linear miles from the boundary of a national park, national monument, national forest, state park, wild and scenic river or other major river, or lake, and
  3. Further than 15 miles from a census-designated urbanized area by road.

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The GNAR Initiative is a program of:


In partnership with USU Extension and the Environmental Dispute Resolution Program at the University of Utah

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