It was disappointing to see Utah’s congressional delegation oppose a reservation system at Zion National Park before the Park Service can provide an opportunity for public comment on potential solutions.
Since 2010, the numbers of visitors flocking to Zion increased 62%. This growth is not sustainable, and the long lines, crowded trails and safety concerns are already affecting visitors' enjoyment of the park.
Rather than ruling out potential answers for this problem, Utahns would be better served if our representatives worked with the experts within the National Park Service and other local groups who for years have been exploring ways to manage the park's visitor growth and protect the unique landscape that attracts millions of tourists every year.
Although the increase in visitors created economic growth, it also created major challenges for the park and nearby communities. We would be hard pressed to find a Utahn who wouldn’t say the visitor experience at Zion has diminished in the last 10 years. Imagine what changes unbridled growth will cause in 10, 20 or 50 more years.
Unless our representatives are bold enough to confront this issue with park managers, tourists and Utahns alike may write Zion off as a paradise lost.
Cory MacNulty is the communications manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.