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SALT LAKE CITY — A scenic section of the Kolob area of Zion National Park is now safe from any future development after a trio of organizations came together to buy the land on behalf of the National Park Service.
The Trust for Public Land announced earlier this week the donation to the National Park Service of a 35-acre inholding inside the park known as Firepit Knoll.
The successful acquisition of the land means it will be incorporated into the park and protected from future development. The purchase was made possible due to support from the National Park Foundation, the National Park Trust and the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation.
The Firepit Knoll parcel is near the popular Hop Valley Trail and immediately adjacent to the red rock spire Job’s Head that rises nearly 1,000 feet above the tract.
"Millions of people visit Zion National Park every year, but most don't realize that thousands of acres inside the park remain unprotected and at risk of development,” Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land, said in a news release Tuesday. “We're proud to ensure that the outstanding Firepit Knoll site will remain undeveloped, wild and open to all — now and for generations to come."
The land was purchased by The Trust for Public Land from an Arizona rancher and real estate developer who bought the property over 20 years ago, and recently decided he would like to see it protected as part of the park.
“We thank the former property owner’s interest in having this land conserved as part of the national park and providing this opportunity for public ownership,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park superintendent.
“We are so very grateful for the work of The Trust for Public Land and the generosity of donors, both organizations and individuals, which made this acquisition possible. Zion National Park accepts and celebrates this addition to the park, on behalf of the American people,” he said.
Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, said this type of partnership helps preserve the country's national treasures.
"The National Park Foundation’s collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, National Park Trust and donors preserves an important piece of our shared inheritance so that all people can experience it,” Shafroth said.
Piece by piece, groups like the National Park Trust are looking to "complete" the national parks by purchasing vulnerable inholdings like that of Firepit Knoll.
"We do a lot of this work. National parks are the crown jewels of our system. At Zion in particular there are 30 private parcels that could be subdivided on and built on," said Michael Patrick, a senior project manager at The Trust for Public Land. The private parcels cover about 3,000 acres inside the park, he added.
"Protecting lands within these national parks is very important."