Looking Beyond Zion: Planning Recreational Facilities in the Adjacent Landscape
Visitation to Zion National Park and the surrounding region has increased 68% since 2010 impacting the park, gateway communities, adjacent public land facilities, cultural and natural resources, and ultimately the visitor experience. More than 4.5 million visitors arrived at Zion in 2017. On most days, parking, camping, and access are overwhelmed. As these resources reach capacity, visitors seek recreational opportunities on surrounding public lands that lack the proper facilities to support intensive visitor use.
The Zion Regional Collaborative was formed to address these concerns, bringing together community leaders and Local, State and Federal land managers, including Zion’s leadership team. Together, the Collaborative has identified areas where Zion adjacent recreational facilities can be developed, including an estimated 200 additional campsites on BLM land. This solution-based proposal protects sensitive resources while accommodating increasing visitorship.
This project funds the development of an Implementation Plan that will detail specific facilities, potential access routes, and infrastructure needs on bordering public lands. Proposed facilities include expanding campsites and hiking trails and creating connections to mountain bike trails. The resources, scenery, and other landscape attributes visitors enjoy within the park are available on public lands surrounding the park, but without proper planning and adequate facilities, they cannot provide safe recreational opportunities.
The Implementation Plan for the landscape beyond Zion will serve as a blueprint for collaborative management of recreational assets. With expenses projected for design, development, and life-cycle costs, this needs assessment will give land managers the data required to request long-term funding from Federal, State, and Local elected officials and agencies. Without a plan in place, and the endorsement from the communities included in the Zion Regional Collaborative, a credible funding request cannot be articulated. The funds requested for the development of the Implementation Plan are an investment in the future of recreation management, resource protection, and an enriched visitor experience within the park boundary and beyond.