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Zion National Park Completes Management Plan For Virgin River And Its Tributaries In Park

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A management plan for the Virgin River and its tributaries in Zion National Park has been completed. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Zion National Park has completed a plan to guide management actions and visitor use on the Virgin River and its tributaries.

The plan was necessary as sections of the river in 2009 were added to the National Wild and Scenic River System. The Wild and Scenic River designation includes segments of the Virgin River, La Verkin Creek, Taylor Creek, and North Creek (including some tributaries) in Zion National Park and adjacent Bureau of Land Management wilderness.

The completed plan will provide a framework to guide future resource management and visitor use.

The plan provides protection for 144 miles of designated wild and scenic rivers within Zion National Park. The management and monitoring strategies found in the plan are designed to protect and enhance the rivers’ free-flowing condition, water quality, and other values that qualify these river segments for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System.

The management plan identifies:

* The kinds and amounts of visitor use that each river segment can accommodate while ensuring protection of river values;

* The types and levels of development allowed in each river corridor;

* Indicators that will be monitored to track changes caused by human activity;

* Adaptive management strategies to implement as changes occur;

* Actions to preserve the rivers free flowing condition; and

* Actions to protect and enhance water quality, ecological processes, scenic values, recreational opportunities, and fish and wildlife.

To read the details of the management plan, go to this page.


Roger and Owen,

I agree wholeheartedly.

The Spinedace is a good in itself. (A synecdoche for wilderness.)


You summed up the issue quite well. You have fallen on the side of "moral obligation". From where does that moral obligation emanate? How does it trump your obligations to your fellow man - say in the case of delta smelt. Farmers in California are being put to ruin to "save" this useless fish. Is that morally right?

The Endangered Species Act was promoted and signed by that noted environmental elitist, Richard Nixon. Following is a quote from A FWS website:
"When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of "esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people." It further expressed concern that many of our nation's native plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct."

A values statement I believe. Attempts have been made to weaken it by adding economic concerns, but have largely failed.

And ec has provided a good answer to his questions when he said, "Rainbows, Browns & Cutthroats have been successfully introduced in hundreds of rivers and streams." Since that's the case, there are ample opportunities elsewhere for those who like to fish for them.

So I guess since we already have Wilderness, there are "ample opportunities elsewhere for those who like" Wilderness. Thus we don't need any more.

ec, so what your saying is you want to rewrite the Endangered Species Act so you can fish for trout in the place where an endangered species lives?

No not solely for that purpose. But I do believe the act should be rewritten in a way that the cost of protection is appropriately weighed against the benefits - if any. Again given there have been billions of species that have come and gone, the protection of a few more just for the sake of protecting them seems senseless to me.

Back in the 1990's, I lived in Colorado along the Poudre River. They stocked it with trout once or twice a week. I watched them put in nice 10-12 inch trout. I could go over and catch one within minutes of trying. It was very enjoyable and good eating. I read an article back then that said these hatchery raised fish, school up an fight for food because this is how they were conditioned from their upbringing. I read that the native trout had died off in the stretch of river I lived on because they had could not compete. I also read the average stocked fish was pulled out within three days of being stocked. They basically were raised with no intention of creating a sustainable population. I think a rooky trout fisherman would love their success but a true trout fisherman would prefer to test their skill in a natural habitat with trout that do not school up and fight for food. EC, I agree when I see a stretch of river that looks like a perfect place to fish, I think it would be cool to fish. But I would rather fish in a spot where I must use skill and insight to challenge a native fish rather than the stocked trout. Just my thought anyway.

Why protect habitat for a species of fish only a very small minority of the environmentally elite care about?

The issue of the conservation of non-resources has been explored in detail in a major publication in American Scientist, by Dr. David Ehrenfeld of Rutgers University in 1976.

This issue boils down to whether or not mankind has a basic moral obligation to care for species and their habitat for which there are no identifiable financial or recreational interests, and no obvious ecological relationship related to the survival of other species for which humans derive economic, recreational, or aesthetic benefit. The moral obligation to protect endangered species and their habitat is present merely because the species exists.

Others, which might include EC, might not share this view. They might say that in our present world with expanding human populations and expanding human recreational needs, the NPS, the FWS, and the Endangered Species Act should take a less assertive approach to the protection and conservation of non-resource species and not commit scarce Federal funds to the removal of non-native species that might otherwise serve the interests of recreational anglers, after all many species have indeed gone extinct in the past, most in the absence of humans on Earth.

I personally agree with Dr. Ehrenfeld. I believe that we do have a moral obligation to protect and preserve wild habitat, even for species that have no identifiable use to human-kind. I guess that makes me, Dr. Ehrenfeld, and others like us environmental extremists?

On the other hand, one might also take the point of view of an evolutionary cosmologist and do nothing at all. Given sufficient time there will be no permanent habitats. Either the Earth will once again experience a major extra terrestrial impact, or over the course of only a few billion years, the sun will slowly evolve into a red giant, expand outward, and totally vaporize our planet. So the question remains, what is it that we are morally obligated to do while we are still here?

Roger Siglin1 seems to have summed this up pretty nicely:

"It seems this discussion has raised the issue of the value of preserving native species. Since it is a question of values it is not very susceptible to reason."

And ec has provided a good answer to his questions when he said, "Rainbows, Browns & Cutthroats have been successfully introduced in hundreds of rivers and streams."  Since that's the case, there are ample opportunities elsewhere for those who like to fish for them. There's no compelling reason (except in the mind of die-hard trout fishermen :-) that every stream in every park has to offer that opportunity, especially if it comes at the expense of another species.

And... that last sentence reflects another value judgment - that national parks should not be expected to be the same as everyplace else.


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