Grand Canyon Association Receives $1 Million Towards Trails Endowment

A trails endowment fund to help pay for maintenace of trails at Grand Canyon National Park, such as this section of the Bright Angel Trail, has been created with an initial $1 million donation. NPS photo.

Grand Canyon National Park has some of the steepest trails, trails that switchback slowly down a mile into the depths of the canyon. Maintaining those trails is not an insigificant matter, and thanks to the Grand Canyon Association a trails endowment fund has been launched with a $1 million deposit.

The association was able to make that downpayment thanks to Arizona Public Service, which provided the money to establish the Grand Canyon Trails Forever Endowment to help preserve and protect Grand Canyon's trails. This is one of the most significant private, philanthropic gifts in Grand Canyon's history.

The Trails Forever endowment will provide on-going funding vital to help maintain the approximately 350 miles of trail at Grand Canyon National Park; 126 miles of which receive scheduled maintenance by the National Park Service. The park has a current maintenance backlog of more than $300 million; $44 million of that backlog is attributed to the trail system.

This endowment will assist Grand Canyon's trail crew maintain and improve many more miles of backcountry trails in addition to the popular main corridor trails like the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails and the River Trail. A portion of the APS gift was used to help renovate the Bright Angel Trailhead.

Ninety-eight percent of the Grand Canyon's 1.2 million acres are in the backcountry and only accessible by the trail system. In 2013, Grand Canyon National Park hosted more than 37,000 overnight backcountry travelers.

"This generous donation from the Arizona Public Service Company is the lead gift that establishes an endowment for trail maintenance at Grand Canyon National Park," said Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. "APS have long been known for their philanthropic work in the state of Arizona and their commitment to community. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, this donation establishes a path that will ensure those generations to come enjoy one of our nation's most precious gifts – the Grand Canyon, for the next 100 years and beyond."

APS has a long history of giving back to the Arizona community and has become an important partner for the Grand Canyon, participating in large volunteer projects, donating photovoltaic solar equipment for use and education, and providing power to the canyon since 1955.

"APS is proud to be part of this historic partnership to preserve and protect the Grand Canyon." said Chairman and CEO Don Brandt. "It is my hope that the public-private partnership forged today between APS and the Grand Canyon Association encourages businesses around the country to take an active role in preserving and protecting our national treasures."

This gift is one of the more significant gifts to Grand Canyon Association in support of Grand Canyon National park in its history.

"This generous $1 million donation to the Grand Canyon is an example of how committed APS is to the community and shows the importance of public private partnerships, said Susan Schroeder, executive director of Grand Canyon Association. "In a period of shrinking budgets this donation and endowment will offset budget shortfalls and keep Grand Canyon's trails open for the public to enjoy."