Standing with Zion During a Government Shutdown

Project Completed
GIFT GRANTED: $146,111

“We visited Zion today. It was absolutely beautiful. Thanks for keeping the park open during the shutdown.”


Three days before Christmas 2018, shutdown protocols went into place at Zion. Employees were furloughed, trash collection ceased, and at a time critical for the completion of road repair projects, payments to contractors could not be processed. During the middle of peak holiday visitation, Zion’s shuttle bus system was unfunded and confused visitors were unable to access websites and other information sources because they were shuttered. Visitors who had spent years planning their first Zion experience couldn’t access the Visitors Center to receive important orientation and safety information. While the park gates remained open, between 8,000 to 11,000 guests a day were in danger of coming to Zion without essential visitor and public health services.

Through collective action, a network of state, county, and city governments, along with the Zion Forever Project, transferred funds to the federal treasury to pay for key visitor services during the 35-day shutdown. For the first five days of 2019, the Forever Project fully funded opening the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, supported a small number of Rangers on duty, maintained restrooms, and kept trash collection in place. Xanterra, the park’s concessioner for Zion Lodge, lent a hand by covering restroom maintenance at the Lodge shuttle bus stop. While other parks around the country suffered resource and facility damage from unmanaged use, this investment to protect Zion at a critical juncture was possible with money generated from the earned income of Zion Forever’s retailing operations, and thankfully, did not impact in any way our philanthropic support to Forever Field Guide Projects.

While this was a difficult time for Zion National Park and its Rangers, the entire Zion NP and Zion Forever Project Team would like to thank individuals from across the world who donated at and filled donation boxes at the park. We are grateful to the Utah Office of Tourism, who paid for the Zion shuttle to continue operating during the first 10 days of the shutdown. The City of St. George and Washington County entered a four-way partnership with the State of Utah and Zion Forever Project to fund the very basic visitor services for an additional three weeks. In a show of leadership, Alsco, a Utah-based linen company, contributed $62,300 to the Zion Forever Project in support of this effort as the shutdown extended.

Throughout the longest government shutdown in history, public and private partners stood with Zion National Park. “We are taking a different path than most other states by bringing public and private partners together to solve a hard problem,” explained Utah State Senator Dan McCay, “A problem that is big enough to see and small enough to solve.”

To our home state of Utah, and our supporters from around the world, thank you for making a difference.