River Running Through Zion National Park Will Be Protected Forever Thanks to the Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy, one of the oldest nonprofit organizations dedicated to the preservation of lands, animals, and rivers, has just purchased a large tract adjacent to the majestic Zion National Park for $4.3 million to preserve the ecosystem enshrined within the famous canyon.

The picturesque 419-acre Utah property called Sheep Bridge includes a 2-mile stretch of the Virgin River, which is relied upon as a water source for Washington County residents.

The river itself eroded one of Zion’s many canyons, and it was snapped up by the Virginia-based Nature Conservancy as part of a greater effort by advocacy groups to protect the area around Zion from development.

The challenge that often faces those involved in conservation is getting governments to preserve complete ecosystems as protected areas. In the United States this difficulty was encountered throughout the history of the National Parks Service, as areas of particular natural beauty were singled out for protection while the adjacent ecosystems—the high country behind Yosemite, the pine forest around Sequoia, or the sage-brush plains before the Grand Tetons for examples, which are necessary to support all the plants and animals that make these places beautiful—are often neglected.

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