Zion National Park was set aside to protect and preserve an extraordinary example of canyon erosion as well as valuable cultural, geologic, vegetative and wildlife resources. Another primary purpose is to provide education to visitors and the general public about this exceptional environment. The 5,100-foot difference in elevation between the desert lowlands and mesa tops encompasses a wide diversity of plant and animal communities of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert regions.
Zion National Park is recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area.
In Zion National Park, a diversity of environments is compressed into a relatively small space. This varied habitat attracts approximately 290 different species to the park. Zion National Park qualified as an IBA based on use of the area by bird species that are on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources sensitive species list. Breeding Mexican Spotted Owls are a primary reason Zion National Park is an IBA. In 2007, 18 occupied territories were found, 14 of which were occupied by pairs. In addition, California Condors are now found in the park, almost year round. Evidence of nesting has not yet been documented, but there is a good likelihood that nesting could happen in the future. In 2007, there were 42 California Condors roosting just outside the park boundary, most of which came into the park on occasion. Bald Eagles winter in the park, but they are not actively surveyed. Northern Goshawks are rare, but have been found breeding in the park. There are rare migrant individuals of Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Migratory American White Pelican, Black Swift, Ferruginous Hawk, and Lewis?s Woodpecker are also occasionally in the park.
In 2007, there were 10 breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons detected in 10 of the 11 breeding territories that were monitored. The Peregrine Falcon is listed as a species of greatest conservation need in the Utah Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.
Through the Virgin River Recovery Program, efforts are under way to restore a more natural flow of the river within the park by removing many artificial barriers that have been put into the river. These efforts should improve riparian habitat for numerous bird species including the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.
Zion National Park is managed by the National Park Service
The following provides the habitat types at Zion National Park and indicates in broad terms how much there is of each habitat: _minor__Lowland Riparian _minor__Mountain Riparian _minor__Wetlands _minor__Wet Meadow _minor__Shrubsteppe _moderate__Mountain Shrub _moderate__High Desert Scrub _minor__Low Desert Scrub _minor__Mixed Conifer _major__Ponderosa Pine _0_Lodgepole Pine _major__Pinyon-Juniper _minor__Aspen _minor__Water _minor__ Rock _0__Playa _moderate__Oak _0__Agriculture _minor__Grassland _minor__Urban _0__Alpine _major__Cliff _0__Sub-Alpine Conifer
Land use by percentage of the whole:
90% Nature Conservation/research
6% of the total acreage is reserved for research use only. Approximately 90% of the total acreage is recommended wilderness.
Zion National Park is managed primarily for nature conservation and research as well as tourism/recreation. Zion National Park is a very popular area for tourists and outdoor recreationists. However, much of the visitation is focused in Zion Canyon and to a lesser extent along the Kolob Terrace and Kolob Canyon roads. There are numerous hiking trails in the park and management plans are in place for backcountry use.