Park’s Official Nonprofit Announces Forever Campaign for Zion
Each year, millions of people seek out the stunning beauty of Zion National Park’s red cliffs, sheer rock faces and towering monoliths without ever thinking about the resulting strain on the park’s resources.
The number of visitors to Zion has increased nearly 62 percent over the past six years. Yet during that same time, federal funding has decreased 4 percent. The park has a $60 million maintenance backlog, yet only about a quarter of visitor fees can be used for basic upkeep because most of each entrance fee goes toward maintaining the park’s 17-year-old aging shuttle system.
That’s why the park’s official nonprofit, the Zion Natl Park Forever Project, is giving visitors, local citizens and corporate partners the opportunity to support projects the park cannot. The initiative comes just in time for Zion’s 100th anniversary in 2019.
“Zion is one of the most iconic parks in the world, welcoming millions of new and returning visitors every year,” says Mark Preiss, director of the Forever Project. “But most don’t know that Zion needs our help. This program gives them direct connectivity to projects they can champion that will help preserve the Zion experience for generations to come.”
The Zion Natl Park Forever Project was formed by joining the Zion Natural History Association and the Zion Canyon Field Institute and Foundation under one identity to better address the needs of Zion National Park as well as Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring National Monuments.
“We had three different names, and the public was confused,” Preiss says. “We felt it was important to come together under one banner to be a more effective partner to the park and to its communities.”
Under its new brand, the organization is educating visitors and donors about funding gaps. This includes publishing a guide that details 37 projects within Zion, Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring that need support in 2018.
Each project falls under one of four categories: preservation, visitor experience, education or sustainability. Funding needs range from more than half a million dollars to less than $5,000. Moving forward, the Forever Project will roll out a new wish list each year.
“These projects serve to protect the integrity of the park experience,” Preiss says. “While federal tax dollars support the park’s day-to-day operations, the Forever Project provides Zion’s margin of excellence.”
Immediate Park Needs
Top priorities for 2018 include preservation projects such as protecting bighorn sheep herds, restoring the park’s second-oldest building, preserving historical pictures and videos, and documenting changes in the landscape.
The organization also hopes to raise money for a new film to replace the park’s dated 17-year-old video; rehabilitate the Grotto Trail and make it fully accessible; bring disadvantaged students to the park; and expand the Junior Ranger Program.
Finally, the Forever Project hopes to continue Zion’s role as a leader in sustainability by installing solar water heaters for the Watchman Park Housing Complex.
Supporters can donate to these projects by visiting zionpark.org. Businesses can partner with the Forever Project to raise money from patrons. Even something as simple as buying merchandise from the Forever Project stores helps support the park.
“We want everyone who comes to Zion and who cares about Zion to be a part of the Forever Project and to be invested in ways that are important to them,” Preiss says. “The park’s future health and well-being is our responsibility as a community of stewards. The Forever Project makes it possible for all of us to give something back to Zion and to make a difference now and forever.”