Arts & Humanities

USU Undergraduate Receives Grant to Study Utah's Scenic Byway 12 Corridor

In Utah, small towns dot the map across its vast and diverse landscape with many of these towns boasting histories rich in agricultural tradition. However, many of these same towns are struggling to preserve their agricultural heritage while also maintaining economic stability. With university support, Kim Harris, a Utah State University junior in the Department of Landscape, Architecture and Environmental Planning, aims to help combat this ever-widening dilemma.

Harris recently received an Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities Grant for her proposal, “‘New West’ Development for Remote Western Towns: A Case Study of Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 Corridor.”  Harris’ research will examine the struggle between the idea of “old west” and “new west” in towns along the byway.

Harris became aware of the issue while in her Advanced Computer Applications in Landscape Architecture class taught by assistant professor Shujuan Li. Harris’ personal connection to the topic helped solidify her desire to study the topic further; Harris’ husband is from a small Idaho town facing similar struggles.

“Because the towns along the Byway 12 are traditionally agricultural and mining communities, the GSRNM [Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument] designation limits the access to many natural resources such as rangeland and mining sites,” Harris wrote in her proposal. “The traditional ‘old west,’ resource-based economy in these towns has been greatly challenged.  On one hand, local residents are struggling with the recessional economy. On the other hand, the growing visitor population disturbs their rural life. The recreational activities remain weak in bringing in profits to these towns.”

Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 Corridor is located in the southeast corner of the state traveling across the Colorado Plateau and connecting Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Park. The byway also crosses Dixie National Forest and part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Harris will be researching what services are available within each town along the byway by visiting and speaking with residents to determine the current state of affairs.

Harris hopes to fill the gap between the current services in place and the development opportunity of environmentally-friendly recreational services that have the potential of bringing needed revenue to each town.

Li, Harris’s faculty mentor, is excited for what this project will bring to LAEP.

“Traditionally, LAEP focuses on landscape design, but environmental planning is important,” said Li. “In the future, we hope to have lots of different research dealing with environmental planning on a large scale.”

For more information about the LAEP program, visit the website (

Writer: McCarty Hatfield,

Old ghost town

USU Undergraduate Kim Harris received an Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities Grant to Study Utah's Scenic Byway 12 Corridor.

Kim Harris

Kim Harris will examine the struggle between the idea of "old west" and “new west” in towns along the byway.


Utah 280stories Grants 164stories Undergraduate Research 108stories Land Management 67stories Landscapes 42stories Rural Development 32stories

Post your Comment

We welcome your comments but your submission will NOT be published online. Your comment or question will be forwarded to the appropriate person. Thank you.

Post your Comment

Next Story in Arts & Humanities

See Also


Women's Experience in Utah Law

Utah State University sociology faculty and doctoral researchers recently released the findings of a year-long study on women working in law-related occupations in the state of Utah.