From building restoration work and trail improvements to additional visitor facilities and improved employee housing, much has been accomplished at Grand Canyon National Park the past two years, according to park officials.
Those and other accomplishments are detailed in a 44-page booklet just released by the park.
"The genesis of these accomplishments starts in 2007 with a series of goals set for the park by the National Park Service Intermountain Region and Washington Offices and the Grand Canyon management team," said outgoing Grand Canyon Superintendent Steve Martin, who is retiring Jan. 1, 2011.
With more than 4 million visitors a year, and its location in a harsh, arid environment, the park is confronted by many issues when it comes to handling those visitors while also preserving natural, cultural, and historic resources.
According to the report, among the issues that existed at the start of 2007 was the need for a better strategy for handling transportation on the South Rim; improving access to the park's main visitor center; better employee housing; "environmental improvements to key park infrastructure that could serve as examples for sustainability", and; planning projects involving restoration of natural quiet to the park, participation in the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program for the restoration of high flow protocols, and completion of a fire management plan.
"As we near the end of 2010, and reflect back over the last several years, most if not all of these challenges have been addressed, leading to significant improvements in the protection of park resources, visitor experience, employee living and working conditions, and the safety of those who visit and live in Grand Canyon," the superintendent said in a prepared release. "Over the last 35 years I have been involved in the management of parks from many different perspectives. The accomplishments by the staff at Grand Canyon, however, surpass anything I have seen from the many incredible management teams I have worked with."
The report provides "snapshots" of many of the projects undertaken in the park during the past two years. It does not list outstanding issues that need to be addressed going forward.
Among the accomplishments outlined in the report are the following:
* Improvements at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Mather Point and South Rim Entrance Station;
* A new visitor center at Verkamp's;
* New Trail of Time exhibit;
* Rehabilitation of Inner Canyon Corridor trails;
* Reconstruction of Hermit Road and an accessible Hermits Road Trail;
* Pavement preservation project for all park roads;
* Rehabilitation of remote and historic Inner Canyon ranger stations;
* New and improved employee housing;
* New housing at Supai Camp;
* Approval for a Science and Resource Management building;
* Upgrades to several antiquated park buildings;
* Rehabilitation to the Desert View Watchtower;
* Office space for Grand Canyon employees in Flagstaff;
* State-of-the-art photovoltaic panels at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and other "greening" improvements;
* Educational programs to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards;
* A developmental leadership program for Grand Canyon and other Intermountain Region employees;
* A new dispatch center and other improvements for visitor safety;
* New restrooms throughout the park;
* Development of a new fund-raising program and partner.
"I leave my tenure at Grand Canyon knowing we have accomplished a great deal of work. We have made significant improvements in the protection of park resources, to employee work and living conditions, to the Grand Canyon community, to the gateway community of Tusayan and to the visitor's experience," said Superintendent Martin. "This report reflects the successes of our park staff, with support from the National Park Service Intermountain Region and Washington Office, and many park partners including the Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon Trust, affiliated tribes, the National Parks and Conservation Association, and neighboring communities and government agencies."
Copies of the Grand Canyon National Park Fiscal Year 2009/2010 Accomplishment Report can be downloaded in pdf form at this site.
Questions regarding the report can be directed to Barclay Trimble, deputy superintendent at 928-638-7319.