Description: In 1993, Zion National Park issued a conceptual plan that
advocated a shuttle system to relieve the auto traffic congestion in the upper portion of Zion Canyon. Traffic
congestion on local and regional roads was also impacting the gateway community of Springdale, Utah. Cars
entering and exiting the park had to pass through the town's narrow main street. The community proposed extending
the transportation system being developed by the Park Service into the town. The intent was to encourage visitors
to leave their cars in Springdale and spend a little more time and money while they were there. The National Park
Service, particularly the park's Superintendent Don Falvey, was receptive to the idea and began working in partnership
with Springdale to develop an award-winning transportation system that serves both the park and community.
Newly-elected Mayor Phillip Bimstein and Superintendent Falvey assembled a 10-member committee to devise a
transportation plan that would meet the needs of both the community and the park. The committee members represented
a broad array of views and opinions, including those that were opposed to park involvement in Springfield's affairs.
As the committee worked on the plan, the Zion Natural History Association and the Utah Department of Transportation
pursued joint funding for the project.
On May 23, 2000, Zion National Park's Zion Canyon became car-free as it launched its environmentally friendly
propane-powered shuttle system. The Zion Canyon shuttle system, which is operated and maintained by a contractor,
operates daily from the beginning of April through the end of October. Shuttle service is provided along two loops:
the town loop which stops at six locations in Springdale and the park loop which stops at eight locations within the
park. Transfer between the loops is made at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. Use of the shuttles is free and
visitors are able to embark and disembark as often as they wish. The use of parking facilities in Springdale helped
reduce the number of required parking spaces at the visitor center by 50%.
Geographic area covered: Zion National Park and Springdale are located at the junction of the
Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert provinces in the southwest corner of Utah. Springdale is a town of
450 residents and is located at the southern entrance to the park.
List of partners and relationships: Zion National Park, Town of Springdale, Zion Natural History
Association, Utah Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, the local business community, Zion
Canyon Visitors Bureau, and park concessioners.
Accomplishments to date: The new transportation system has helped improve the air quality and
visitor experience of those coming to the park.
Since the shuttle opened, tax revenues for the town of Springdale have increased 22 percent. The National Park
Service estimates that in its first year, the shuttle service eliminated 42,000 vehicle trips. And a park visitor
survey indicates an 85% approval rate of the service.
The project, and the relationship that emerged between the park and the town, accompanied other cooperative
activities such as water and sewer agreements and emergency responses.
Key success factors: The timing of the project and the personalities and collaborative relationship
of Mayor Bimstein and Superintendent Falvey were crucial to success. The newly elected mayor's style and willingness
to work with the park complemented that of Superintendent Falvey's interest in building a meaningful partnership with
The recognition by both partners that the park's mission and the town's mission were similar. Both believed in the
preservation and protection of the park's resources, and in providing public access to these resources. They never
lost sight of their goal to preserve the heritage, culture and character of the community while providing a quality
Superintendent Falvey exemplified what a federal land manager should do. He, as well as his wife Carole,
familiarized themselves with the local political and social setting, often hosting parties and events in their home.
He facilitated the partnership by: taking risks, listening patiently and responding with empathy; and understanding
the values of the community.
Frustrations: Only one. After several years of working positively with the park, communicating
openly with the town and building trust and momentum towards the partnership, a few residents spread misinformation
about the project just as the town was about to sign a deal. This situation was only temporary as partners met with
residents in a single well-attended town meeting and corrected the misinformation.
Most important lessons learned to date:
- Building a good working relationship with community leaders starts with building a good personal relationship.
You don't just build a partnership instantaneously. You have to have a relationship first. Both parties worked to
create an atmosphere of openness.
- Long-term partnerships must benefit both the park and the community because one-sided partnerships quickly
- It is important that park employees be part of the social life of the town. Park employees participated in
community activities such as the Halloween Haunted House, a sod party for the city park, and adopting a portion of
the highway in town and picking up litter along it. During the government shutdown during a budget impasse in 1995,
park employees volunteered to paint the gazebo in the town's park.
- The park must consistently communicate with their partner and continually seek the community's input. Offer
park resources, technical assistance, time, staff and facilities.
What would you do differently next time: Since the partnership was so successful, there is
nothing we would change.
Suggested resource materials:
National Park Service Denver Service Center, Ed McMahon's "Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities",
and Daniel Kemmis' "Community and the Politics of Place."
For more information:
Name: Phillip Bimstein
Affiliation: Former Mayor, Town of Springdale
Name: Don Falvey
Affiliation: Former Superintendent, Mt. Zion National Park
Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)
Fundraising __; Capital Improvements _X_; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design _X_; Program Delivery __;
Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __, Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_;
Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation __; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation _X_;
Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning _X_; Tourism _X_; Community Relations _X_;
Prepared by: : Phillip Bimstein Date posted: 10/16/03