Shaw, who took over the job from retired park manager Ron Taylor on July 1, has participated in the island’s annual Bison Roundup for the last five years. During that time, he’s come to know and love the island that it’s now his job to protect.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to manage such a unique resource,” said Shaw, who was most recently the park manager of Hyrum State Park. “The island is such a unique place – some of the oldest rocks on the planet are at one end of the island, while some of the youngest are on the other.
“When you add the historical and cultural resources on the island, it’s fun to manage everything the state parks stand for in one place.”
Shaw has spent 12 years with the parks division, but his love of the state’s natural wonders started long before that.
“My dad was a real outdoorsman, and I spent a lot of time outside as a child,” said Shaw, adding that park rangers were a part of his life from early on. “I realized when I was about 10 what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
His relationship with the island started five years ago, when he was invited to take part in the bison roundup held on Antelope Island every fall.
“It was mostly curiosity, but when I got there I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I was hooked, and I look forward to getting even more involved as a manager.”
Other than the bison, Shaw said that his favorite part of the island is its trail system, which he points out is nearly as accessible in the winter as it is in the summer.
“The unique thing about it is that the island doesn’t get that much snowfall,” he said. “If you wanted to go hiking in the winter, the trails would let you access some truly unique resources.”
Those resources, combined with the trails that let the public access them, also highlight what he feels is one of the key elements of park management.
“The biggest challenge is trying to balance protecting the natural resources with the recreational experiences offered to the public,” said Shaw. “We want to allow the public to see these things, but at the same time we want to protect them so we don’t damage them.”
Though he’s only had a few meetings with community leaders so far, that interaction has given him hope that local residents are also focused on maintaining that balance.
“There’s a very tightly-knit community out here that seems to deeply care about the island and want it to succeed,” he said. “That’s super encouraging for me.”