Zion Forever Project’s new 5-year strategic plan emphasizes ‘Greater Zion Landscape’

Angels Landing towers over the Virgin River in Zion National Park, date, location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Zion National Park Forever Project has released its 2019-2024 strategic plan, putting a new focus on building new partnerships and furthering the “Greater Zion Landscape.”

The plan was created through a series of workshops and collaboration among the Zion Forever Project, Zion National Park, local and regional stakeholders, and leadership from federal agencies. It aims to determine the current, short term, mid-term and long term goals aligning with the Forever Project’s mission to “improve today, inform tomorrow and protect forever.”

“It basically gives us a framework for the next five years as to where our focus should be as an organization and how we can best support Zion National Park and that Greater Zion Landscape,” Zion Forever Project Executive Director Lyman Hafen said.

Dating back to 1929, the Forever Project, known as the Zion Natural History Association before rebranding in 2017, has mainly focused on retailing in park stores and publishing books and interpretive products to support Zion.

“Our strategic plan calls for us to continue to strengthen those basic foundational aspects of our organization, but we’re now moving into new initiatives related to fundraising for projects, and to education, and to other experiences that we play a role in,” Hafen said. “So we’re still tied to our traditional approach to what has made our organization strong, but this plan now gives us a springboard to really venture into new ground.”

There are six core elements to the strategic plan. The Forever Project hopes to achieve and further organizational excellence, visibility, message and brand, fundraising, park stores, publishing and education, and events and experiences. Many of the projects planned for 2019 are found in the Field Guide to Forever Projects.

Read more: Zion Forever Project releases plans for protecting, improving Southern Utah parks

One way of furthering the original purpose is by working to create a new line of Zion Forever Project brand merchandise and look into expanding retail opportunities to locations outside of the park, such as in airports or online, which is listed as a long term goal.

A map showing the area considered to be part of the “Greater Zion Landscape” | Image courtesy of the Zion National Park Forever Project, St. George News

A main theme throughout the plan is to further the Greater Zion Landscape, which includes the areas expanding out to Cedar Breaks National Monument, Color Country Public Lands, Pipe Springs National Monument the Arizona Strip and the Shivwits Plateau.

One of the goals, listed as a short term goal for park stores, is to have a presence at the East Side Visitor Contact Station that will be built on private land just outside the east entrance of Zion, which they hope to start in 2020.

Read more: ‘Gateway community’ planned for east entrance to Zion National Park

Similarly, one of the short term plans to further the Greater Zion Landscape is to build a visitor information and education facility at Cedar Breaks. Currently, the visitor center is being run out of a 650-square-foot historic cabin built in the 1930s, and there is a need for a larger space to accommodate the nearly 1 million visitors that go to Cedar Breaks each year. Plans for the center are already in motion, and they hope to have it completed by 2021.

Cedar Breaks
This historical photo shows the front of the Civilian Conservation Corps-built visitor center at Cedar Breaks, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

While the Forever Project is already the official nonprofit partner for Zion National Park, and the Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring national monuments, they hope to expand their partnerships to include the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. This partnership would be to both help those other agencies in furthering their resources and to help disperse Zion’s crowds to other features in Southern Utah.

“Our first and most important priority is with our relationship and our partnership with Zion National Park, but part of that role is helping the park deal with its challenges and one way to do that is to help disperse visitation throughout the greater landscape,” Hafen said.

Another partnership they would like to more fully develop is the one they have with the Southern Paiute people.

“That is a very key part of what we hope to develop more of in the future. We already do have meaningful connections to … the Southern Paiute,” Hafen said. “But we want to strengthen those relationships and find ways to help support different programs and initiatives that help sustain the Native American story, and presence, and future on this landscape.”

The Forever Project plans to help fund the protection of, and education about, the dark skies of the Kaibab Paiute Tribe’s land, which has been recognized as the first “Dark-Sky Nation” by the International Dark-Sky Association.

They also continue to help fund immersion camps for Paiute youth lead by Paiute tribal elders to support and teach kids through their traditional ways of learning during four-day camps on public lands as outlined in the Field Guide to Forever Projects.

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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