Sheep Bridge and the Virgin River Corridor

Protecting Pristine Habitats Surrounding Zion National Park

This month the protected lands of the Greater Zion Landscape grew significantly in size. In an effort championed by The Nature Conservancy, a circle of motivated partners and supporters, was able to secure and protect 419 acres of land adjacent to the Virgin River near the borders of Zion. Known as the “Sheep Bridge” parcel, this area was named one of the most pristine river segments in the country by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. 19 miles of the Virgin River were classified as “Wild and Scenic” by the Bureau of Land Management in 2009.

The flourishing Virgin River passage is home to animals searching for relief in the desert. Lush plant life provides critical habitats for a diverse range of migratory birds, amphibians and reptiles, and the river sustains a diversity of threatened fish.

Sheep Bridge, Virgin River_ALL RIGHTS_morning on the river_Credit Stuart Ruckman

Sheep Bridge, besides playing host to a myriad of plants and animals, is also a popular recreation area for swimmers, hikers, and mountain bikers. Now that land is protected from future developments, the area will remain open for land stewards and advocates to enjoy responsibly, in a truly open space.

With The Nature Conservancy at the helm, and in partnership with The Virgin River Land Preservation Association, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, a willing landowner, and a host of private donors, this corridor now remains protected forever.

Zion Forever was honored to contribute $25,000 to this project and have it featured as a top priority in our 2020 Field Guide. This gift was only possible because of the generosity of our supporters, and it helped close the gap to complete this important acquisition.

“The significance of this cannot be overstated. The Virgin River is the lifeblood of Zion and our entire region. It not only carved the canyon over eons of geologic time, but it continues to sustain the plants, animals and people here today. Playing a role in the protection of this land is at the heart of the Zion Forever Project’s mission.”– Lyman Hafen, Executive Director Zion Forever Project

Zion Forever remains committed to working across a broad landscape with partners from diverse backgrounds to tackle the park’s top priorities including conserving the lands surrounding the park in the Greater Zion Landscape.