Date: September 22, 2008
Jim Crisp, Southwest Utah Adviser for Special Projects
Southern Utah University Office of Regional Services
SPRINGDALE — The first phase of a local initiative to learn more about and plan for the future of the natural beauty and resources along the Zion Canyon corridor — located along State Route 9 from LaVerkin to Springdale and into Zion National Park — will begin in early October with public meetings to gather information and get citizens’ input.
With funding support from Southern Utah University’s Office of Regional Services, the Zion Canyon Corridor Council has partnered with graduate students in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environment Planning at Utah State University to develop land-use strategies along the corridor.
“The goal is to reach a common vision to maintain the wonderful landscape leading into the park along Highway 9,” said Jim Crisp, Regional Services’ Southwest Utah Adviser for Special Projects.
The Zion Canyon Corridor Council, or ZC3 as the group is known, is composed of representatives from four municipalities — LaVerkin, Rockville, Springdale and Virgin — as well as elected officials and planning professionals representing Washington County, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, Utah Department of Transportation, and School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, along with Southern Utah University and Five County Association of Governments.
Each of the communities has been active in the creation of the council, identifying its purpose and priorities, and sharing in the decision-making process, Crisp said. Representatives from Hurricane City and Kane County have also attended ZC3 meetings.
With guidance and facilitation from Springdale’s Community Development Director and planner, Tom Dansie, ZC3 has been meeting monthly for nearly a year and agreed on this first project with SUU and USU as a way to pursue the goals identified by Vision Dixie.
“ZC3 wants to take the planning principles outlined in Vision Dixie and incorporate them into our local planning processes,” Dansie said. “The USU corridor study will help us bridge the gap between talking about Vision Dixie and doing something about Vision Dixie.”
Thanks in part to a $5,000 grant from SUU Regional Services as well as funding and in-kind donations from ZC3 participants and businesses along the corridor, Utah State University LAEP students directed by Associate Professor David L. Bell will visit the region in early October.
Under Bell’s direction, the team will sponsor public meetings to gather information that will help the graduate students understand the natural, historical, cultural and recreational quality of corridor communities and get a better feel for the significance of the Zion Corridor landscape.
Representatives of USU’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning team are experienced in community projects, having provided similar services in rural communities throughout Utah over the past several years.
During its initial week-long stay, the LAEP team will also present a project status report. This public meeting will allow the students to share their preliminary work as well as provide a glimpse into the alternative development futures facing the region over the next 30 years.
At the end of the project, the LAEP team will develop an “implementation toolbox” that will outline specific actions the ZC3 communities can take to promote preferred futures.
“There is such concern over the beautiful and fragile landscape of the area that understanding potential futures will allow the decision-makers to make better and more informed decisions,” Bell said.
The next potential planning endeavor as ZC3 pursues implementation of Vision Dixie principles is already on the drawing board, SUU’s Crisp said.
The council is hoping to complete a coordinated management plan along the corridor leading to an application for National Scenic Byway designation.
Five County Association of Governments staff have successfully led the planning for two completed applications for Scenic Byway designation — Scenic Byway 143 from Parowan through Brian Head and to Panguitch, and Scenic Byway 12 through Garfield and Wayne counties from Panguitch to Torrey.
As a ZC3 participant, FCAOG is advising the council on National Scenic Byway planning and future potential designation, as well as funding sources to fund the planning, Crisp said.
“We’ve been seeking sources of funding to pay for this next ZC3 project,” Crisp said. “We see a lot of benefits for the area, and the two projects will both complement one another as well as lead the corridor communities further toward implementing the Vision Dixie principles. It meshes nicely with our area’s desire for specific planning and responsible land use.”