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Zion National Park Visitor Use Management Plan Scoping Newsletter

Below you will find the Purpose and Need and the Proposed Action for the Visitor Use Management Plan. You will also find the Scoping Newsletter and various posters that were shared with the public at the scoping meetings. If you were unable to attend one the scoping meetings or if you have additional information you want to share with the planning team, please provide your comments below.

Purpose of the plan
The purpose of the plan is to identify strategies for managing visitor use and access including, but not limited to, the appropriate levels of use in Zion's front country areas, consistent with existing management plans, the long-term stewardship of park-wide cultural and natural resources, and the provision of high quality visitor experiences.


Need for the plan
This plan is needed to address a wide range of issues associated with rapidly growing visitation and changing use patterns, including:

• Visitor health and safety concerns
• Diminishing quality of the visitor experience
• Natural and cultural resource impacts
• Heavy strain on the park's facilities and ability to perform daily operations
• Effects to and from adjacent communities

Proposed Action
The proposed action is focused on managing visitor use to ensure that natural and cultural resources are protected and that opportunities for high-quality experiences are available to visitors. The primary focus of the proposed action is on the front country areas of Zion National Park, including the most developed and visited sites (see map).

Management strategies would aim to meet desired conditions as well as health and safety standards within the capabilities and related constraints of facilities, transportation, and financial resources/staffing.

A key component of this proposed action would be to directly manage visitor use levels in the park through establishment of visitor capacities. Visitor capacities define the maximum amounts and types of use that an area can accommodate while achieving and maintaining desired conditions.

Visitor capacities, which could vary by season and/or specific areas of the park, would be established, along with implementation techniques that would directly manage the amount and time of visitor access.

The proposed action would also provide adaptive management through monitoring for conditions that do not match park desired conditions. In cases where observed conditions do not meet desired conditions, the National Park Service would adjust the capacity, either up or down, to meet the goals of the Zion VUM Plan.

Facilitating improved visitor outreach for pre-planning purposes also would be an important component of the proposed action because access to the park would be encouraged, albeit in different ways or at different times. Continued protection of wilderness and wilderness character in backcountry areas would be accomplished by continuing to implement and monitor already established guidance and related thresholds.

 
Comment Period: Closed        10/17/2016 - 11/23/2016
Topic Questions:
1. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of these types of systems?
What ideas do you have on how these types of systems might be implemented?

To directly manage the number of visitors in Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyons at any one time in support of desired conditions, Zion National Park may:

Establish visitor capacities and manage visitor access through implementation of a timed-entry system, reservation system, or another mechanism. Possible strategies might include:

• Under a timed-entry system, visitor access via the shuttle system into upper Zion Canyon locations would be scaled throughout the day to not exceed capacity at designated up-canyon locations.
• Under a reservation system, visitors would secure reservations online to ensure that visitation does not exceed capacity at designated locations; some
2. Which of the potential Zion Canyon-wide management strategies do you feel would be most helpful in meeting the plan purpose and need?

Below are some examples of actions that could compliment a potential reservation or timed-entry system in Zion Canyon:

• Relieve congestion at campgrounds by eliminating first-come first-serve campsites and requiring reservations (not including Lava Point Campground).
• Redesign of south entrance area to reduce traffic congestion and queues, for improved shuttle bus, pedestrian and bicycle access and limited additional parking (e.g., additional travel lanes - including an express lane and kiosk stations)
• Construct a multimodal trail to encourage other modes of travel (e.g., hiking and biking) other than use of the shuttle.
• Explore technology to prepay entrance fees prior to arrival and automated gate pass system to facilitate entrance.
3. Which of the potential destination specific management strategies do you feel would be most helpful in meeting the plan purpose and need?

Angels Landing and the Narrows
• Safety, human waste management, and natural resource impacts are concerns under current use levels. Through study, establish visitor use thresholds and monitor use, evaluate the need for managing use levels on to Angels Landing and in the Narrows through a timed entry, permitting or reservation system and implement if established thresholds are exceeded.

East Entrance
• Visitors traveling through the park between the south and east entrances, and enjoying the park along the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway without extended stops for hikes, etc., would purchase a regular entrance pass and could travel this route at any time without reservations.
• Seek opportunities for partnerships or other means to establish a visitor orientation facility and public restrooms near the east entrance to better support visitor use and educational opportunities in this part of the park.

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway Tunnel
Based on tunnel capacity studies, the park would project future traffic loads and devise techniques to manage tunnel capacity such as:

• Increase wait time at the tunnel for oversized vehicles in order to reduce the number of daily times the tunnel is closed to 2-way traffic.
• Establish specific times for oversized vehicles to move through tunnel in order to reduce the number of daily times the tunnel is closed to 2-way traffic.
• Establish an automated traffic signal system to manage tunnel traffic.

East & West of Tunnel
• Define road shoulders and appropriate vehicle pull-out locations.
• Define locations for pedestrian quiet walk-ways.

Kolob Terrace
• Define trail head parking, road shoulders and appropriate vehicle pull-out locations.
• Define locations for pedestrian quiet walk-ways.
4. Are there other management strategies that we should consider as we develop alternatives for the plan?

Document Content:
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