Utah lawmakers voice strong opposition to reservation system at Zion National Park

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Kayenta Trail Zion National Park _-2523281462943660966

WASHINGTON (ABC4 News) – Members of Utah’s congressional delegation wrote a letter to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior opposing a plan that they say will restrict visitor access to Zion National Park.

Senators Mitt Romney (R), Mike Lee (R) and Representatives Rob Bishop (R), Chris Stewart (R), and Ben McAdams (D) say a reservation system that the National Park Service has proposed for Zion will have negative impacts on the local economy.

“As the fourth most visited national park in the country, ZNP is a pillar of the local tourism economy – helping support jobs and generate revenue,” the delegation wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “If the ZNP Capacity Study concluded that a reservation system is necessary to meet new capacity standards were necessary and recommended a reservation system to implement the standards, it would likely result in reduced visitation and negative economic impacts. We strongly urge the Department to find solutions that will preserve access to ZNP while enhancing the visitor experience.”

The full text of the letter can be found below.  

Dear Secretary Bernhardt,

The National Park Service (NPS) is moving forward with a capacity study that could mandate a reservation system for Zion National Park (ZNP). We write to reiterate our strong opposition to any reservation system and instead request that NPS give ample consideration to locally-driven alternative solutions that preserve visitor access and enjoyment.

As the fourth most visited national park in the country, ZNP is a pillar of the local tourism economy – helping support jobs and generate revenue. If the ZNP Capacity Study concluded that a reservation system is necessary to meet new capacity standards were necessary and recommended a reservation system to implement the standards, it would likely result in reduced visitation and negative economic impacts.

We strongly urge the Department to find solutions that will preserve access to ZNP while enhancing the visitor experience. State and local leaders have proposed several solutions including improved public outreach and use of the state’s marketing resources, state and local investment in trails or road infrastructure alternatives outside of Zion Canyon, and shuttle system changes to manage peak visitation.

We are encouraged by the many ideas NPS can explore with state and local stakeholders to improve the visitor experience without severely restricting visitors from accessing ZNP. We urge the Department to carefully evaluate these proposals rather than pursuing burdensome visitor limitations and reservation systems. 

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