Zion, Pipe Spring join push for electric cars
Visitors can now join Zion National Park rangers in an effort to promote clean air and clear skies by taking the wheel behind an electric vehicle to visit the park.
Park officials from Zion and Pipe Spring National Monument joined with local elected leaders Saturday to celebrate the opening of two new level-two electric vehicle charging stations at the entrance to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, part of a larger project that will eventually include 10 stations located throughout Zion and Pipe Spring. Zion has also acquired two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for use within the park, with another one acquired by Pipe Spring, all through a grant program offered through the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities National Parks Initiative.
"As the National Park Service enters its Centennial in 2016, with the theme “Find Your Park,” we look forward to a sustainable and environmentally conscientious second century,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, superintendent at Zion. “By partnering with Utah Clean Cities Coalition, Zion helps visitors find their park in an energy efficient way by installing electric vehicle charging stations.”
The program is the first of its kind to be offered at Utah’s popular national parks, joining a larger nationwide effort to encourage cleaner alternative fuel vehicles. Since 2010, the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative has helped 27 parks across the country to adopt new alternative fuel vehicles, lowering petroleum use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said Utah Clean Cities Executive Director Robin Erickson.
“It is our pleasure to partner with Utah’s parks on projects like these, moving forward the National Park Service’s mission to conserve our national treasures for the enjoyment and education of all,” she said.
To use park charging stations, visitors will need to purchase a code at the Zion Natural History Association desk inside visitor centers during operational hours. The $5 code is valid for 3 days, and can be used at all Zion National Park public charging stations.
This weekend marked the end of National Parks Week, a week full of informational presentations, public celebrations and other events tied to the National Parks Service’s efforts to reconnect with residents and reach out to new audiences.
The NPS also released an annual analysis on the parks visitation numbers showing the importance of the parks to southwest Utah’s economy.
More than 5.2 million visitors spent an estimated $336.8 million while visiting Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Pipe Springs National Monument, supporting nearly 5,000 jobs and $152.8 million in labor income, according to the report.
Statewide, Utah’s national parks accounted for some $1.1 billion in economic impact over the course of the year, according to the report, with the state showing a 19 percent increase in visitor spending and an 11 percent increase in total visitation over the previous year.
© 2015 St. George News, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.
Zion National Park charges into future with electric vehicle charging stations
SOUTHERN UTAH – Utah continues to be on the forefront of technology and renewable energy sources as Zion National Park made history in 2014 by being the first park in Utah to install electric vehicle charging stations.
On April 24, Zion continued its charge into a more sustainable future by celebrating a new charging station located at the Kolob Canyon visitor’s center near New Harmony.
Leading the charge was Robin Erickson, executive director for Utah Clean Cities Coalition, who, along with Alex Barajas, environmental protection specialist and Juli Rohrbach, environmental sustainability coordinator for Zion National Park, secured the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and Clean Cities Initiative to purchase and install the EV charging station.
“The parks service has a pretty firm stance on climate change and this will be one of the things that echoes that stance,” Barajas said.
Guest speakers also included state representatives, Iron and Washington county commissioners, the Rocky Mountain Power Company, the Zion Natural History Association, sales associates from the Steven Wade Auto Center, and Southern Utah resident Mark Larsen, who owns a Nissan LEAF and is a strong advocate for electric vehicles and their positive impact on the environment and the wallet.
As Erickson opened the ceremonies, she thanked the people instrumental in the process.
“It’s always great to see the public and our representatives and commissioners come down to support the national parks because they know what a great impact it has on our economy,” she said.
Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh spoke about the importance of sustainability in the national parks, namely those in Utah.
“Today, we are all participating in the newest chapter of our sustainability story with the addition of electric vehicle charging stations for our park visitors who have invested in America’s energy future with a low pollution motor vehicle,” he said.
State Rep. John Westwood shared that “Zion is the first park in the state to implement this technology and this will affect our economy, our tourism, our people and our air quality.”
Westwood also read part of the mission of the National Parks service, which is to “Preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Westwood then added, “That’s what we’re doing here is setting the standard for future generations.”
As part of that standard, Zion National Park currently operates a small convoy of Ford C-Max hybrids and with this newest EV station, private owners of electric and gas hybrid vehicles will be able to charge their vehicles at a cost of only $5 for three days and ideally be able to travel throughout Zion’s Park by only charging their vehicles at the strategically placed stations, which can be found at www.plugshare.com.
Copyright © 2015 Iron County Today.