All Hands on Deck
Zion National Park’s annual visitation has doubled over the past decade, increasing from approximately 2.5 million in 2010 to just over 5 million in 2021. This increase in visitation has led to more visitors exploring the park’s backcountry and an increase in the need for search and rescue resources. In 2021, Zion National Park responded to 134 search and rescue (SAR) incidents, 15 of which involved aviation and 14 were classified as technical rescues.
The park currently employs a relatively small team of commissioned law enforcement rangers who, among many other responsibilities, lead search and rescue operations. In order to meet the demand in SAR services, Zion‘s Law Enforcement Rangers have reached out to their peers in the park as well as local guiding and climbing outfitters. Many capable new recruits are volunteering to join the team, but they lack basic search and rescue and risk management training.
In its efforts to increase its capacity to respond to search and rescue calls, Zion National Park hopes to provide basic training to these volunteers as well as to other qualified law enforcement rangers, and NPS staff. This increase in qualified SAR-trained individuals is vital to sustaining search and rescue operations in the park. With your support, we propose to engage a combination of National Park Service rangers and subject matter experts to provide three-day training sessions, which will include introductions to common SAR operations in Zion, demonstration of SAR techniques, hands-on training with SAR equipment, development of SAR technical skill sets, and physical assessment tests.
Donations through the Zion Forever Project will allow for an increase in the number of responders that are trained to address hundreds of critical incidents that occur in the canyon every year. Zion also hopes to increase advocacy and stewardship within the local guiding community who assist with rescues by spreading the message to visitors to recreate responsibly and sharing that information with locals and visitors while guiding on their excursions.