SPRINGDALE—After more than a decade, and despite continued storms, unpredictable landslides, government shutdowns and the current pandemic, the restoration of the historic Emerald Pools Trail network at Zion National Park is now complete. The park’s more than 4.5 million annual visitors – ranking it fourth in visitation among the country’s more than 60 national parks – can again enjoy one of its most iconic and accessible trails, closed since 2010 when heavy rains and mudslides made it impassable.
A $1 million grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation – which also funded youth programs for up to 20,000 schoolchildren in Utah’s national parks – led the public-private funding partnership for the three-year, $1.2 million restoration project. Additional funds came from the National Park Foundation, the S.L. Gimbel Foundation, and contributors to the Zion Forever Project. The effort was launched as part of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge Grant Program provided by Congress in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.
“This major reconstruction and restoration project, bringing back to life one of the park’s most iconic trail networks, would have been impossible without the generous support of our partners from the private sector,” said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “Now, for the first time in more than a decade, park visitors can once again experience some of Zion’s most spectacular natural features through this restored trail complex. These kinds of partnerships are vital in caring for all our national parks for the benefit of the American people. Thanks to supporters nationwide, we’ll continue to get things done in Zion in the seasons ahead,” he added.
Recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, the Middle Emerald Pools Trail was originally constructed more than 85 years ago in 1932. Becoming impassible in 2010 due to storm damage, the trail was further decimated by storms in 2016. Work began that same year to restore the entire trail network, matching the historic architecture and design techniques used during its original construction. With entire sections of the trail sunken and lost, its restoration required the expertise of engineers, geologists, and skilled masons who carefully restored the trails, using mostly hand tools and traditional, rustic craftsmanship under rugged conditions.
Said Eccles Foundation President & COO Lisa Eccles, who also serves on the National Park Foundation board, “At the Eccles Foundation, we take special pride in the five national parks that call Utah home, knowing they are not only beloved by millions worldwide, but also contribute significantly to our state’s outdoor industry and rural economy.” She added, “Zion is truly a national treasure, deserving of our careful attention and stewardship. It’s been a privilege for our Foundation to lead the effort to restore this important, historic trail system, which will ensure that millions more – now and for generations to come – can be enriched and inspired by Zion’s unparalleled majesty and beauty. It’s a testament to what our national parks offer the world.”
Said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, “Our core mission is to foster the success of these vital park improvements through public-private partnerships, ensuring the preservation of our national parks now and in the future. We appreciate the extraordinary generosity of contributors such as the Eccles Foundation and the S.L. Gimbel Foundation, and the work of our partners such as the Zion Forever Project, which enable us to see that projects of this scale and importance come to fruition.”
According to Lyman Hafen, executive director of the Zion Forever Project, “As we work to address some of the park’s largest challenges, it’s heartening to make connections with area businesses and communities to bring the best people and ideas to the partnership. Their enthusiastic involvement will enable us to continue to succeed as we move into the future.”
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help protect more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts and connect all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org
ABOUT THE ZION FOREVER PROJECT
The Zion Forever Project is the official nonprofit partner of Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring National Monuments. The momentum behind the Forever Project has incited funding, partnerships, and community support from organizations and Park enthusiasts throughout the state and beyond – reflecting the Project’s main objective of uniting park, community, and state partners to leverage resources to address visitation and park protection issues. Zion NP contributes over 340 Million dollars each year to Utah’s outdoor recreation economy and provides for approximately 4,000 jobs in local and gateway communities. Visit zionpark.org to join in the mission of stewardship for Zion National Park.
ABOUT THE GEORGE S. AND DOLORES DORÉ ECCLES FOUNDATION
Among Utah’s largest and most longstanding charitable organizations, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation has contributed more than $600 million during the past three decades alone to benefit Utahns statewide. Through its charitable grants to Utah nonprofits, it has improved the lives of countless citizens throughout the state, meeting vital current needs and strengthening the state’s economic base for the future. Its grants are focused in areas including the arts, community/social services, education, health care, and historic preservation and conservation. The Foundation's Board of Directors includes Spencer F. Eccles, Chairman & CEO; Lisa Eccles, President & COO; and Robert M. Graham, Secretary, Treasurer & General Counsel. More information can be found at www.gsecclesfoundation.org.