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East Zion development featured in Salt Lake Tribune

The Salt Lake Tribune featured a story about development in East Zion in their November 27 issue. A hot-button topic for several years here in Kane County, the Tribune clearly thinks its 250,000 readers need to hear about it, as well. SUN Editor Ty Gant says, “The SUN has been covering this story from the outset. To see a publication like the Tribune cover it as well reinforces its significance.”

A rendering of a proposed lodge build near the east entrance to Zion National Park. Image courtesy of Kevin McLaws.

Tribune reporter Mark Eddington provides something of a deep dive into what makes the east entrance to Zion National Park unique, as well as the plans for growth being developed by area property and business owners.

Eddington notes that in East Zion, “… there are no Golden Arches or other fast food outlets. Neither are there any franchise hotels, tourist traps or unflattering eyesores that often typify towns outside national parks,” adding that the park’s east entrance today is not the same as other gateway towns like Moab or Montana’s West Yellowstone, going on to say, “And if a small cadre of East Zion property and business owners get their way, it never will [be].”

The story outlines a number of topics related to the development that will be familiar to local readers, including plans for development aesthetics that blend in, affordable housing for workers and park employees and a $9.2 million water reclamation plant to replace sewer lagoons and septic tanks.

Eddington describes the undertaking as a “collaborative capitalist vision” shared by property owners, business owners, local nonprofits and the national park itself. Regarding the efforts of the partners in this public/private venture, Utah Tourism Director Vicki Varela said, “Well, things like that don’t [usually] happen. Historians will look back in 100 years and highlight this as one of the key milestone events to ever happen in the state.”

The nonprofit Zion Forever Project will be operating the planned visitor’s center when it’s completed in 2025. The center will include education programs for visitors about the area’s natural wonders, as well as a transit hub for visitors to ride into the park. Development group members have pledged to donate two percent of their business profits at least 50 percent of the profits for a proposed lodge (operating as a nonprofit benefit corporation) to Zion Forever and other nonprofits. The combined total could be as much as $3.5 million when the facilities are operational.

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