Letter: Tribune’s editorial on Zion is a sad capitulation to big money

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Zion National Park visitors take pictures at the iconic park entrance sign, Sept. 26, 2021. Zion is the third popular national park in the U.S., behind the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Yellowstone National Park, according to the National Park Service's Social Science Program, which collects and records visitation numbers.

The Tribune’s Oct. 17 editorial on Zion National Park is a pretty sad capitulation to developmental big money. The environmental community, both professional and amateur, has repeatedly been calling for the only solution that will help the overcrowding problem in Zion: A reduction in the number of visitors now despoiling the park!

The Organic Act of 1916 establishing the parks saddled the Department of Interior with a dual mandate: First, protect them, and leave them unimpaired for enjoyment by future generations. Secondly, provide for public enjoyment. Note that the emphasis is on preserve and protect. How long will the multimillion dollar construction of massive features like more shuttles, new trails in east side wilderness, and a new visitor center serve to fend off swiftly growing visitation ?

Broad vistas to lift the visitor’s spirits, tight slot canyons for the adventurous, hiking trails into the massive red mountains to view wildlife, the rainbow of fall colors … these are what visitors come to Zion for. Not for Utah’s urge to develop and fleece and call it “adapting .”

As to your concluding thought that we need to shame Washington’s senators and representatives into paying more attention to public lands: What a laugh. Utah’s government and voters have amply demonstrated that “extraction” on public lands is the primary interest. And the extraction can be of minerals or of tourist dollars.

Read Tom Goldsmith’s editorial published on the same date for the right outlook.

Marcel Rodriguez, Springdale

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