ST. GEORGE — The top-down hike through the Narrows, one of Zion National Park’s most iconic features, will reopen after a temporary agreement was reached between Washington County and private landowners.
The agreement will reopen the Narrows for public access starting Saturday until the end of the year with an easement, said Zachary Renstrom, chairman of Washington County Commission. The announcement was made at a special commissioner meeting Friday.
“It is a temporary agreement, but at least it opens it right now and gives us additional time,” Renstrom said.
Zion National Park officials announced they were stopping issuing permits for the 16-mile Narrows top-down hike Tuesday, after members of the Bulloch family, who own property that hikers need to cross along the trail, placed signs in the canyon that read “Private property, no trespassing.”
Renstrom, who met with the landowners to facilitate the agreement, said the landowners were planning to hike into the canyon to remove the “no trespassing” signs Friday afternoon, meaning Zion National Park could start issuing permits again once the agreement is signed by the landowners, hopefully by Saturday, he said.
Blocking access to the Narrows has upset many people who traveled from across the world to hike through the canyon, Renstrom said. The landowners understand this and want to be able to allow the thousands of people to pass through their land in the Narrows each year, he said.
The landowners have just been frustrated after trying for four years to get the federal government to hold easements on their property, Renstrom said.
“They just want to be compensated for their land,” Renstrom said.
While the temporary agreement only allows hikers to pass through the property until Dec. 31, Renstrom is hoping the federal government will strike a permanent deal with the Bulloch family and purchase a conservation easement through the family’s land.
The conservation easement that the landowners want on their land will allow public access through the Narrows and prevent them from placing buildings or developing the land. However, they’re also hoping to continue using their land for hunting and cattle, Renstrom said.
“I think that’s the best solution, (Zion National Park) thinks it’s the best solution, the landowners think it’s the best solution – it’s just the other federal bureaucrats that have been holding up the process,” Renstrom said.
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