Twenty-four projects funded during Phase I of Forever Project in its inaugural year — a 75 percent increase of support from prior year
By Melanie McBride
With emerging Phase I results, the Zion Natl Park Forever Project, Zion’s official nonprofit partner, acknowledges the unprecedented generosity from the private and public partnership that has yielded the funding of 25 projects identified as the park’s top priorities in the 2018 Field Guide. The tremendous response in contributions to the Forever Project during its inaugural year reflects an approximate $1 million investment to accomplishing project goals for Zion and its sister monuments, Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring. All projects fall under the Forever Project’s four mission pillars: preservation, education, visitor experience and sustainability. Project development for Phase II of the Zion Natl Park Forever Project is underway with the release of the 2019 Field Guide scheduled for spring.
Leading to Zion’s 100th anniversary next year, the Forever Project has demonstrated the success that can come from leveraging public and private resources to help protect and celebrate Utah’s first national park. With flat to declining federal funding, the unwavering commitment to fundraising for the Zion Forever Project has never been more paramount to Zion’s future and is emerging as a model of private and public partnership for our national parks.
Generous contributions large and small have contributed to the unparalleled Phase I outcome of the Zion Forever Project. Grassroots efforts — from kids donating their “change to make change” at park store registers to businesses at Zion’s gateway cities that have joined the Proud Partner program by donning the infinity “Z” in their lodges, shops, and restaurants — are attributed to the sustainability of Zion’s future. Leading the charge among large corporate and philanthropic donors are change-makers and visionaries Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank, and Kem Gardner, Chairman of Gardner Company. As founding members of Forever Project Founders Circle, Anderson and Gardner donated time, talent, and resources to launch the Forever Project all throughout the state. The foundational collaboration and partnership strategies will continue to shape the success of the project for seasons to come.
“The Forever Project efforts are not about nostalgia for a park experience that is lost,” said Lyman Hafen, executive director of Zion Natl Park Forever Project. “Rather, they are integrated actions to protect the integrity of the Zion experience for generations to come. Looking back at nearly a century of discovery and memories among these sacred canyon walls, we are humbled and grateful to so many who have captured the vision of this project right from the start. They all are part of Zion’s legacy by providing unwavering support, monetarily and otherwise.”
A full listing of the 25 projects is included below. Featured in the list as funded projects are seven preservation initiatives, including field actions to project Zion’s bighorn sheep herd. This program reached unexpected popularity with more than 4,000 people purchasing a plush sheep with proceeds going directly to ensuring the herd’s health and safety. Growing the next generation of park stewards, all nine projects under the education program have been funded, including Concrete to Canyon for students at Title I schools experiencing Zion for the first time and the expansion of the Junior Ranger Program to thousands more youth.
Monetary support and leadership from the Forever Project is ensuring exemplary park visitor experiences through a new park film in the Visitor Center and available online, replacing the outdated version from the 1980s. The new film will have a special premiere as part of the park’s next100 celebration in 2019. Planning is fully underway for the reconstruction of the Middle Emerald Pools trail, with field work to begin in 2019. Top projects specific to Pipe Spring and Cedar Break National Monuments have been funded, including Cedar’s Dark Skies Experience and planning/design for a new visitor education center funded in part by the Iron County Restaurant Tax Program.
Pending projects leading into Phase II include support for a proposed new shuttle system as well as an extension of the shuttle season in order to keep up with the demand of visitors during what previously was considered Zion’s shoulder seasons. Planning is underway for new toilet facilities at Scout Lookout with installation slated for 2019 and a matching grant to replace the 1965-era comfort stations at the park’s east entrance this season.
“What we have experienced in 2018, its inaugural year, with Zion Forever Project, is a collaborative and necessary partnership that is setting a new standard of support for national parks,” said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “I could not be more grateful to the expanding Zion Circle of donors who stand behind these efforts. As we approach Zion’s 100th anniversary in 2019, it is my hope that the momentum of this recommitment to the care and sustainability of Zion has only begun. Everyone, whether organization or individual who has contributed or has yet to contribute, can take pride in sharing this inspirational land with the millions of visitors that come from around the United States and the world every year.”
Leadership of the Zion Forever Project extends its gratitude to the tens of thousands of individuals and organizations that have contributed to the success and completion of work throughout the past year. Zion invites anyone who has not given to consider joining the Zion Circle by donating to the Zion Forever Project.
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