National Parks Conservation Association Praises New Washington County Lands Bill as Step toward Protecting Zion National Park and other Important Natural Areas

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   April 11, 2008
Contact:   David Nimkin, National Parks Conservation Association, 801.521.0785


National Parks Conservation Association Praises New Washington County Lands Bill as Step toward Protecting Zion National Park and other Important Natural Areas

 SALT LAKE CITY – The nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today praised the introduction of new legislation to protect Zion National Park and other natural areas in Washington County, Utah, as the result of a comprehensive and inclusive planning process.

“Senator Bennett and Congressman Matheson have partnered with the community to develop legislation that accommodates the county’s long-term growth while ensuring the lasting protection of local and national treasures, including Zion National Park,” said NPCA Southwest Regional Director David Nimkin.

The Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2008 will designate 90 percent or 124,000 acres of Zion National Park as Wilderness, ensuring its protection in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations. Revenues from the sale of non-ecologically significant land now managed by the Bureau of Land Management will fund the acquisition of private land within the boundaries of Zion National Park and other conservation projects, while also accommodating Washington County’s rapid growth. The bill also provides enhanced protections for the Virgin River by designating approximately 165 miles of the river and its tributaries across federal lands in Washington County as Wild & Scenic.

“This bill was the result of a comprehensive and inclusive planning process,” said Nimkin. “It was consistent with the principles, objectives, and directives of the Vision Dixie process, and as a result, will succeed in ensuring the economic vitality of the region and the preservation its natural assets.”

According to The Nature Conservancy, Washington County is the most ecologically diverse county in Utah and one of the most ecologically significant counties in the U.S., supporting a wealth of rare plants and animals, including 12 endangered species. The county is also home to Zion National Park, which was established in 1909 to protect its soaring sandstone cliffs, rich diversity of plants and animals, free-flowing river system, and thousands of years of human history. In 2007, Zion welcomed 2.6 million visitors.

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