Conserving Land On Zion’s East Side

The Zion Forever Project understands that caring for our parks will always be a group effort as we continue to build a coalition of voices elevating the call of responsible stewardship in the parks and highlighting the increasing needs Zion faces in its second century as a National Park. 

Working with our partners, we have helped conserve thousands of acres of land near to and surrounding the borders of Zion. These lands are now conserved in perpetuity, for their natural resource and recreational values. The holdings are integral to the park experience and recognizes the adjacent public lands values which draw tens of millions of visitors each year to the state of Utah and the southwest region. Maintaining a margin of excellence affirms the shared mission of ensuring our National Parks and all public lands remain spaces for emotional connection, healing, and inspiration for the next century of park visitors. 

With gap funding provided by the Zion Forever Project, partners like The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy and the Virgin River Land Preservation Association have worked diligently to conserve parcels near Zion’s borders. Your gifts leveraged and unlocked dollars across state, federal, and private sectors targeting holdings critical to future conservation efforts across the Zion region, and that includes Zion’s east side. 

East Zion remains the last unprotected gateway to a national park in the lower 48 states. With more than 5 million visitors this past season, the urgency to find sustainable solutions and perpetuate a high-quality visitor experience has never been greater. 

“The East Zion Initiative is founded on a shared conservation vision. A balanced approach that protects the eastern gateway to Zion National Park in perpetuity, while providing new experiences and recreational opportunities that expand the Zion experience beyond the park’s traditional gateways.” –Jeff Bradybaugh, Superintendent, Zion National Park 

The sense of place created by our collective actions on the park’s eastern plateaus benefits millions of Zion visitors and the rural communities and residents who call the Zion region home. This creative collaboration is the right people, coming together at the right time, with one chance to get it right. 

The most recent success was a prominent 37.7-acre parcel adjacent to the park eastern entrance. Zion Forever grassroots supporters alongside significant partners including the George S. and Dolores Dorè Eccles Foundation, the National Park Foundation, the Donnell family, The Conservation Fund, and the State of Utah’s McAllister Critical Lands Conservation fund contributed a combined $1.28 million to secure a conservation and trail easement on this critical parcel. In addition, Steve Neeleman and his family, owners of the Zion Ponderosa Ranch, working with The Trust for Public Land, generously donated more than 1900 acres of land surrounding the Orderville Gulch area, providing public access through Orderville Canyon into the famous Narrows hike. 

With some of the essential easements now complete, this continuing campaign seeks to work with landowners to focus on similar critical tracts. These acquisitions are at the heart of future planning on the east side, and without their conservation, the integrity of the East Zion Initiative would be in jeopardy. Your contributions are the catalyst to providing recreational access, complimentary visitor experiences and protecting sensitive habitats. The parcels are home to threatened species like the Mexican spotted owl and migration corridors for Zion’s iconic herd of bighorn sheep. Beyond wildlife, these lands also hold precious springs, streams, and creeks that affect downstream watersheds into Zion Canyon. 

The eastern entrance to one of America’s most popular and revered national parks is fully deserving of our efforts, and with your generosity, we have an opportunity to enhance the Zion experience in collaboration with neighbors and partners . . . and you.