WASHINGTON, July 25, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation has awarded the National Park Foundation a $1 million grant – the largest private contribution ever awarded to the foundation to enhance the national parks in Utah. The grant, part of the National Park Foundation's Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks, is earmarked not only for extensive critical repairs and upgrades at Zion National Park, but also for programs to provide Utah's youth with opportunities to visit the parks and programs in their home state.
The Middle Emerald Pools Trail – one of Zion National Park's most beloved hiking trails – has been closed since December 2010 when heavy rain caused rockfalls and extensive mud slides destroying much of the trail. The Eccles Foundation grant will fund needed repairs and improvements to the trail. With constraints requiring extensive reengineering, realignment and reconstruction, the anticipated completion date for the trail project is in December 2019, at which time it will reopen to the public. The grant will also make it possible for up to 20,000 school children from throughout Utah – including many who have never before visited a national park – to participate in engaging, hands-on, in-park experiences through programs such as the National Park Foundation's Open OutDoors for Kids initiative and Concrete to Canyons.
"Thanks to funding from the Eccles Foundation, Middle Emerald Pools in Zion National Park will get an essential infusion of support to restore and reopen the trail," said National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth. "Private support like that from the Eccles Foundation plays a vital role in meeting critical needs within our parks."
According to Spencer F. Eccles, Chairman & CEO of the Eccles Foundation and longtime supporter of the National Park Foundation and board member from 2003 to 2009, "Our national parks are among the most incredible places anywhere in our country … and we're so fortunate to have more than a dozen of them right here in our backyard! Our foundation's directors take special pride in Utah's national parks, and as we welcome the 101st year of our National Park Service, we remain committed to ensuring its vibrant future in our state!"
"We greatly appreciate the support from the Eccles Foundation. Their generosity will restore an exemplary hiking experience in Zion National Park for millions of future park visitors," said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. "With the Foundation's support, our greatest resource, our children, will have the opportunity to experience our treasured parks and gain a sense of responsibility as the future stewards of Utah's amazing national parks."
Added Shafroth, "This grant from the Eccles Foundation builds on the tradition of private support that has benefitted the National Park System since its inception. Many of the earliest national parks – from Yellowstone and Yosemite, to Glacier and Grand Canyon – were direct beneficiaries of generous philanthropists and organizations who stepped forward to keep national parks protected and accessible for everyone."
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
ABOUT THE GEORGE S. AND DOLORES DORÉ ECCLES FOUNDATION
Among Utah's largest and most longstanding charitable organizations, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation has contributed more than $500 million during the past three decades alone to benefit Utahns statewide. Through its charitable grants to Utah non-profits, it has improved the lives of countless citizens throughout the state, meeting vital current needs and strengthening the state's economic base for the future. Its grants are focused in areas including the arts, community/social services, education, health care, and historic preservation and conservation. The Foundation's Board of Directors includes the following: Spencer F. Eccles, Chairman & CEO; Lisa Eccles, President & COO; Robert M. Graham, Secretary, Treasurer & General Counsel. More information can be found online at www.gsecclesfoundation.org.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alanna Sobel
SOURCE National Park Foundation