Kane County votes down plan to create shuttle from Kanab to Zion

The vote on Proposition 10 came just a week after the East Zion Initiative launched a pilot electric shuttle system.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mornings in Springdale, just outside the entrance to Zion National Park are a flurry of activity as hikers rush to board city shuttles to take them into the park, Sept. 26, 2021. Springdale, population 529, sees about 16,000 tourists a day.

Kane County voters, a majority who live in Kanab City, voted down a ballot initiative that proposed a public bus shuttle system that would have transported visitors from Kanab City to Zion National Park on Tuesday.

The county electorate was asked whether or not they’d support Proposition 10, which would have created a government body to run a shuttle from Kanab City to East Zion and on to Zion National Park. The shuttle would have also provided services to the region’s access to hiking and biking trails, vacation stays and other recreational opportunities.

Unofficial election results indicate that 1,338 voters or about 68.44% voted against Proposition 10.

“Proposition 10 lost,” County Clerk Karla Johnson said. “The people voted against it.”

Johnson added that Kane County had about a 60% voter turnout for this election cycle.

The vote on Proposition 10 came just a week after the East Zion Initiative launched a pilot electric shuttle system to demonstrate cleaner options for transportation in the region and as a way to help disperse Zion’s 4 million visitors to different parts of the park. The East Zion Initiative recently celebrated the opening of a new 10-mile mountain bike trail system as part of a larger project to develop the area, which includes a proposed $16 million East Zion Visitor Center Applecross Station.

Members of the East Zion Initiative say the vote is disappointing but it will not stop their plans to develop the area. The initiative consists of Utah Clean Cities, Kane County, Zion Forever Project, the National Park Service, the McLaws family, state and federal tourism officials and the Bureau of Land Management.

The vote will exclude any immediate regional recreational planning with Kanab City, supporters of the electric shuttle system say.

Tammie Bostick, executive director for Utah Clean Cities, said that the people’s vote on Proposition 10 is centered on misinformation and that the vote doesn’t impact her work to supply electric shuttles for visitors to Zion National Park. Utah Clean Cities will find other alternatives than Kanab City to launch its electric shuttle service, she said.

Last week, Bostick told The Salt Lake Tribune that the electric shuttle services sponsored by Utah Clean Cities would launch in Kanab, and now she and other partners will need to plan for other launch sites.

“[The] shuttle system is to serve Zion National Park,” Bostick said. “And to demonstrate the technology in the park has nothing to do with Kane County.”

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain, who also sits on the board of Utah Clean Cities, added that he is surprised by the public vote on Proposition 10. “We’re feeling like maybe it was a fair amount of people that are feeling overrun with tourists, and well, not tourists, just seeing the area grow and kind of resistant to that,” Chamberlain said.

As a result of the public vote, Chamberlain said, Kane County will no longer consider creating a transportation authority for the East Zion region, and that future transportation plans would probably be better suited to a private or nonprofit entity.

“We will just kind of go forward with doing the things we can do and things like the shuttle system, if that happens, it will need to be somebody else that does that,” he said.

The nonprofit Zion National Park Forever Project still plans to work with its partners to extend the park’s economic and recreational opportunities around Zion, including the East Zion area.

“In the spirit of shared stewardship for these heritage lands, Zion Forever Project will continue to work with its Kane County partners, business leaders and property owners to conserve the last unprotected and undeveloped gateway to a national park in the lower 48 through the East Zion Initiative, " said Mark Preiss, director of Zion Forever Project.