Total visitation at Zion National Park topped 2.34 million last year, a 5 percent increase over 1989, which also set a record for attendance.
"This continual growth of visitation presents management with some challenging decisions," said park superintendent Harold L. Grafe. "We are continuing to look into the matter of a Zion Canyon shuttle system, but we are also having to take a hard look at overuse in the Narrows and other areas where the fragile resource may be impacted by increased use."Grafe also noted that the first season of winter operation at the lodge has been successful.
"We hope that with the idea that the lodge is open, the park is open," he said. "And thus, it will spread out visitation into the lighter-used season."
Grafe has also announced preparations for a Draft Development Concept Plan and Environmental Assessment for the park that should be ready for public review by mid-1992.
The document will address how to manage the growing number of visitors, and how to accommodate visitor demands "in an organized and efficient manner." Visitation at the park is up more than 1 million people in the last 10 years.
The study area will encompass the south entrance station, the visitors center, South Campground, Watchman Campground, the Nature Center, the maintenance shop and the Oak Creek, Pine Creek and Watchman housing areas.
The National Park Service has produced an informational brochure that explains the planning process. It also invites the public to identify issues that should be addressed in the management plan.
Comments should be returned to the park by Jan. 31. For more information, contact the park at 772-3256, extension 16, or write to: Superintendent, Zion National Park, Springdale, UT 84767.