Entrance to Zion Narrows Trail Permanently Protected

October 6, 2020
Springdale, UT

The Trust for Public Land, together with the State of Utah and the U.S. Forest Service today announced the completion of a conservation project to secure permanent public access to two key trails, Orderville Gulch and Birch Hollow, that lead to the Zion Narrows trail in Zion National Park. Both trails cross private property and were at risk of being inaccessible before being permanently protected by a public trail easement. 

Orderville Gulch and Birch Hollow trails are technical canyoneering routes. The area features dramatic slot canyons and hosts timber stands, including Ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, mountain maple, pinyon juniper and mature cottonwoods in the canyon bottom. 

Located in Kane County three miles east of Zion National Park, the 1,790-acre project also protects, through a conservation easement, important habitat for several threatened wildlife species and preserves the dramatic vistas for visitors from around the world who come to see Zion. 

“The Greater Zion Region is one of this country’s iconic outdoor places,” said Jim Petterson, southwest area director for The Trust for Public Land, “Through this win-win conservation project, we’ve secured another permanent public access point to the Zion Narrows Trail, and protected a beautiful 1,800-acre parcel of private land adjacent to a wilderness area just outside Zion National Park. This project represents just one piece of our long history in and around Zion National Park and we look forward to continuing to protect this special place.” 

Zion National Park is the fourth most visited national park in the country and celebrated its centennial last year. The Trust for Public Land has a long history of working with partners to protect and expand the park. In 2013 The Trust for Public Land protected Tabernacle Dome and the 300-acre Chamberlin Ranch, which includes the main trailhead to the Zion Narrows Trail. 

More recently in 2018, The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the National Park Foundation and the National Park Trust protected a 35-acre inholding inside Zion National Park along the popular Hop Valley Trail. The organization conserved the last unprotected mile of the Zion Narrows Trail last year, securing permanent public access to this iconic trail. 

The Orderville Gulch and Birch Hollow project protects a section of Orderville Creek, a tributary to the North Fork of the Virgin River which supports the Colorado River and is the lifeblood for Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Water from the Virgin River provides the main water supply for 150,000 residents in Washington County, Utah. Orderville Gulch is also home to a diverse group of wildlife species including the threatened and endangered California condor, southwestern willow flycatcher, and Mexican spotted owl. 

According to a newly released economic analysis, the National Park System brings more than $40 billion in the US economy. The report also cites that 300,000 jobs are generated through tourism to national parks. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy generates 110,000 jobs in Utah and $12.3 billion in consumer spending. Zion National Park is the fourth most visited park in the country and in 2018, 4.3 million park visitors spent an estimated $246 million in local gateway regions while visiting Zion National Park, according to data from the National Park Service. These expenditures supported a total of 4,130 jobs, $95.6 million in labor income, $168 million in value added, and $327 million in economic output in local gateway economies surrounding Zion National Park. 

Thanks to the Trust for Public Land and our partners, public access to the trails will be protected in perpetuity by the State of Utah through public trail easements while the remainder of the property will stay in private ownership with restrictions to limit further development through a conservation easement.

The purchase of these conservation and trail access easements were made possible by the Utah Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, and a generous gift from a private philanthropist. 

About The Trust for Public Land 

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.