A record year for search and rescue in Zion National Park

A Nellis Air Force Base helicopter leaves Zion National Park after crews rescue John Fiske Burg on Saturday.

A Nellis Air Force Base helicopter leaves Zion National Park after crews rescue John Fiske Burg on Saturday. (Zion National Park via KSL NewsRadio)



Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

SPRINGDALE – Recent reports show Zion National Park rescue crews have been especially busy over the past 12 months. But the problem seems to be unique to Zion. Officials with Utah State Parks say they're not seeing a similar spike.

So far this calendar year, 153 search and rescue efforts have been made in Zion National Park. Compare that to only 87 attempts in 2020, and only 47 rescue attempts in 2019.

The most recent search involved John Fiske Burg, a 79-year-old hiker stranded in the wilderness for several days. Chief Ranger Daniel Fagergren says the man was able to make a cellphone call to his son and then to 911 Friday afternoon.

"He did say that he was at the beginning or the top of a slot," said Fagergren. "That was helpful, to a degree, but there are so many slot canyons in Zion that it really doesn't narrow down our search area."

Manned and unmanned aircraft from Nellis Air Force Base, spotted the man about five miles away from where he started hiking.

The data is still being collected on the total number of search and rescue efforts within Utah State Parks, so they don't yet know exactly how many attempts were made during the same period.

Read the full article at KSL NewsRadio.

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Paul Nelson

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