Outsideonline.com - Full Article
Unless the Forest Service can pony up the cash to save it
J. Weston Phippen
Oct 18, 2018
he Zion Narrows is the most popular hike in one of most popular parks in the country. Only 90 people are allowed through all 16 miles each day, and permits to walk the slot canyon that cuts between 2,000-foot cliffs are booked months in advance. So at the end of September, when a park ranger reported finding No Trespassing notices posted and a For Sale sign that read, “880 Acres. With Water. Resort potential,” hikers and lovers of Southern Utah’s red rock landscapes were understandably panicked.
The Narrows begins at Chamberlain Ranch, a few miles northeast of the Zion National Park boundaries. But as the route enters Simon Gulch, at the edge of the park, it passes through a mile of private property owned for 50 years by the same family—a family that, it would seem, suddenly wants to sell. “We didn’t have a heads-up from the landowner or a reason,” Cindy Purcell, the management assistant at Zion told the Las Vegas Review Journal after news of the closure spread.
After the signs went up, on September 25 the National Park Service stopped issuing permits for the full Narrows hike. And because the waiting list was already booked through early November, it meant anyone who’d scheduled a trip could also be turned away. Thankfully, the park service and the county reached a temporary deal with the owner, Scott Bulloch, so the trail is safe until the end of the year.
It could be easy to think of the Bulloch family as greedy, or opportunists who wanted to cash in on a national treasure. But that’s not what happened. The Bullochs, in fact, want to see their land pass into the federal government’s hands. “We feel that property should belong to the public,” Scott Bulloch told the Salt Lake Tribune. They just can’t get a fair deal for it.
For the past three years the Bullochs have been trying to do just that, working with the Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco-based conservation group focused on access. The Trust’s Southwest area director, Jim Petterson, told Outside the plan has always been to get the U.S. Forest Service to buy the 880 acres, or at the very least an easement to the Narrows, through its Forest Legacy Program, which is part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Congress allowed the LWCF to lapse earlier this month...
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