National Park Service Centennial Campaign & Middle Emerald Pools Trail Fundraiser

The National Park Service will be celebrating its 100th birthday on August 25th, 2016. This spring the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation launched the public awareness and education campaign “Find Your Park,” to get the country ready for the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service and to set the stage for the next 100 years.

Find Your Park invites the public to see that a national park is more than just a place  it can be a feeling, a state of mind, or a sense of American pride. Beyond vast landscapes, the campaign highlights historical, urban, and cultural parks, as well as National Park Service programs that protect, preserve and share nature, culture, and history in communities nationwide. Further, Find Your Park encourages people to find their own personal connections within the network of national parks and public lands.

The campaign is designed to build support with young Americans and to connect the next generation with the National Park Service. Michelle Obama and Laura Bush are serving as honorary co-chairs of the National Park Service centennial celebration. Celebrities Bill Nye (scientist), Bella Thorne (TV and film actress), Roselyn Sanchez (TV and film actress), Terrence J. (TV personality) and Mary Lambert (singer/songwriter and LGBT advocate) are official Centennial ambassadors who will be reaching out to the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.

Zion National Park’s main focus for the centennial will be a large online and social media presence to engage the public. The park will also be incorporating the centennial into existing events. Over the next two years you will find special exhibits at the museum and visitor center, special ranger talks, and other small events. Zion National Park will also help to promote lesser known area parks, national monuments and public lands. Visit www.FindYourPark.come to learn more the National Park Service and National Park Foundation’s centennial campaign and to find your park!

In addition to building support for the National Park Service and to support their goal to connect, protect and inspire, the National Park Foundation is giving back to Zion National Park. Through their Centennial Fundraising Campaign, they are raising funds to reconstruct and reopen the Middle Emerald Pools trail.

After a record breaking snowfall on the plateau of Zion, there was a period of warm weather in December of 2010 and 9 consecutive days of heavy continuous rain that caused major flooding in Zion Canyon. The Virgin River peaked at 5,860 cfs causing the park to close the canyon. It was during this major flooding that there was a small landslide on the Middle Emerald Pools trail just past the junction with the Sand Bench trail. According to James Brown, Zion Trail Crew Supervisor, “The section of the slide that was most severe was the top of the slump, where the land slid 20 vertical feet. Initially the park tried to reopen the trail but in just one weekend, the slide moved half a foot. This caused the park to close the Middle Emerald Pools trail and even today it continues to move a few inches or so each time it rains.” The trail cannot be put back in the same area but the plan is to reroute the trail in order to safely reopen it. This project would include new infrastructure including drainage structured like culverts and water bars, stone retaining walls, and check steps (stone or log fronted steps with crushed rock inside) to retain the soil.

The Middle Emerald Pools Trail Centennial Fundraiser is currently one the National Park Foundation’s Top 50 Centennial Fundraising Projects and the Zion National Park Foundation is hoping to match the funds that they raise. Construction of the Emerald Pools Trails: Lower, Middle and Upper began in 1932 by the National Park Service and were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The Middle Emerald Pools trail is an asset to Zion National Park, as it was one of the most popular trails in the park. With an increase of supporters and awareness it is our hope that this iconic trail in Zion will once again be open to the public.

Photo by Sarah Stio, NPS: Ranger Adam, Ranger Jin, and millennials celebrate the announcement of the “Find Your Park” Campaign in Zion National Park.

By: Jin Prugsawan, Park Ranger