Sustainability

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Sustainability at Zion National Park begins with you, the visitor. In ensuring that future generations will be able to lose themselves in the absolute beauty of ZION, we continue to strive in acheiving the ten goals outlined in the National Park Service Green Parks Plan: Continuously Improve Environmental Performance; Be Climate Friendly and Climate Ready; Be Energy Smart; Be Water Wise; Green Our Rides; Buy Green and Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle; Preserve Outdoor Experiences, Promote Healthy Engagement; Strengthen Sustainability Beyond Our Boundaries; and Green Our Grounds.

Explore for yourself ZION's commitment to sustainability.

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Zion National Park Recycling Program

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Nature has shown us how, through decomposition, organic materials are broken down into something that can enrich the soil and give life to the next generation. Nature has taught us that this process (recycling) is essential for the continuation of life, and to ensure that the awe-inspiring natural resources are just as awe-inspring tomorrow as they are today.

In 2016, Zion National Park experienced a drastic increase in visitors; exceeding the previous year by over a million visitors from around the world. Accompanying these visitors to Zion was the waste that was left in their wake. Though many countries around the world have strict policies governing recycling, the United States maintains that it is optional. Many times, this has left visitors with limited knowledge as to where various recycling opportunities are available.

The park has various opportunities for visitors and employees to divert waste from the landfill; but through a waste stream analysis conducted at Zion in March 2016, it was discovered that 53% of waste disposed of in trash receptacles could have been recycled. With the help of visitors, the park can improve that percentage, and recycle many of the items that are discarded as trash.

Recyclable

Zion National Park has recycling opportunities for plastic, glass, cardboard, paper, and metal (steel and aluminum cans).

Please ensure that the items discarded into the recycling containers are relatively free of food, liquid, or trash.

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Green Transit

By the late 1990s, cleaning the air, reducing noise, and decreasing the stress that comes from traffic jams and lack of parking had all become major concerns in Zion. Then along came the idea of replacing 5,000 cars with 21 buses. Each propane-powered bus and trailer replaces 28 visitor cars and reduces CO2 emissions by over 12 tons per day. What a difference it has made--for air quality, wildlife, and you!
Shuttle bus in Zion Canyon
Zion didn't just stop there. The park is always looking for new ways to green our fleet and reduce carbon emissions. Over the years, the park has made it a priority to replace out-going vehicles with more fuel-efficient options. Zion currently has a fleet of ten hybrid vehicles, two electric campground carts, and two plug-in hybrid electric cars. The most recent addition of the electric cars also brought ten electric vehicle charging stations to the park through a grant from the Department of Energy's Clean Cities National Parks Initiative (see the May 2014 News Release).
With these efforts, and your assistance, we can reduce the environmental impacts of the more than three million visitors that vacation in Zion annually and ensure the protection of our resources for this and future generations. Thank you!

Climate Friendly Parks

Solar panels near the Emergency Operations Center.

The challenge of climate change allows parks to serve as very visible models for climate friendly actions. Zion National Park participated in a Climate Friendly Parks Workshop with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and completed the steps necessary to become reorganized as a Climate Friendly Parks member. Zion is leading the way in the effort to protect your parks' natural resources and ensure their preservation for future generations.

Change has always been a powerful force in nature. National Parks and the stories they represent help us understand and appreciate how much our lives are influenced by environmental change. They illustrate how interconnected we are with the natural world whenever change occurs.

As individuals and families, you can make a difference by following the tips listed on the NPS Climate Change website.
Climate Friendly Parks logo7-20

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Sustainable Landscapes

Landscapes

Zion National Park is known world-wide for its amazing scenery. An integral part of that scenic experience is the vegetation found throughout the landscape. Zion has made an effort to blend into that landscape, both by using stone and other natural building materials and by designing with native plants.

The Zion Canyon Visitor Center, Emergency Operations Center, and Lodge landscapes were all designed using native plants, blending both the natural and cultural resources of the park. Native plants are the most environmentally-friendly way to landscape. They conserve resources, expand habitats, minimize pollution, prevent noxious weeds from establishing, maintain biodiversity, and are inherently beautiful. They are, by definition, the most sustainable option because their unique adaptations allow them to thrive naturally, without human interaction.

More on Zion Landscaping
Many of the plants used throughout Zion are actually grown from seeds collected in the park, ensuring their genetic purity. Thousands of plants within dozens of species are grown in the Zion Native Plant Nursery which can be used not only for new planting but for re-vegetating damaged areas. Areas of the park may be damaged due to fire (both prescribed and accidental), exotic weeds, and from human impact and disturbance. Thanks to a shade structure, a greenhouse, and a propagation field—all located on-site—it is possible to grow natives year-round to have them ready for spring or fall planting.

Although some irrigation is necessary in the park's most visited areas, Zion is constantly exploring the most efficient irrigation methods. Currently, many of the landscapes are watered with filtered river water to cut down on treated water use. Point-source irrigation (drip emitters, bubblers, drip line, and root zone systems) and proper scheduling help minimize loss from evaporation.

The landscapes of Zion National Park are well-known and well-photographed. They have evolved over millions of years, and continue to change today. As environmental stewards of this area, our goal is to make as little impact as possible on those landscapes.

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Sustainability in the Community

Earth Day in the town of Springdale.

Zion National Park's commitment to sustainability extends beyond its borders. We believe that working with the natural surroundings works best when you also work with the surrounding communities as well.

Springdale, the park's gateway community, has made significant efforts to become a green community. In addition to being active participants on the Zion Canyon Green Team, Springdale residents have established a successful recycling program, are active proponents of renewable energy sources, and are proud sponsors of the successful Earth Day and Arbor Day celebrations each year. For more information please visit the official Springdale Green website.

Furthermore, Zion National Park has the good fortune of partnering with Xanterra, one of the "greenest" of park concessionaires, which is in the vanguard of environmentally friendly businesses. Xanterra operates the Zion Lodge. Everything from organic food, composting food scraps, nontoxic cleaning agents, and cabins retrofitted for energy efficiency can be found at Zion Lodge. For more information please visit the Zion Lodge website.

As individuals and families, you can make a difference by following the tips listed on the NPS Climate Change website.

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Last updated: August 30, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.
State Route 9

Springdale, UT 84767

Phone:

(435) 772-3256
Staffed daily from 9 am - 12 pm. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. If you are unable to reach someone by phone, please email us at zion_park_information@nps.gov.

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