Zion National Park caused an uproar among photographers in January of this year when it came to light that photography workshops operating within the park were restricted to using tripods in paved areas and pullouts only. Within two weeks of that initial response Zion had reversed a part of those restrictions. With 2019 fast approaching, there're even more changes coming for photography workshops and their participants.
Earlier this year, Fstoppers confirmed that Zion National Park had limited the use of tripods to only paved areas and pullouts for commercial photography workshop operators and their attendees within the park. After the reporting went somewhat viral within the photographic community, Zion reversed part of their decision and added the Pa’rus Trail to the acceptable areas for tripod use when attending photography workshops within the national park. This was a valuable first step for commercial photography workshops in 2018 to engage in the conservancy discussion with Zion and the National Park Service. With the renewed discussions and input from the businesses operating in some of the most delicate areas of the park and who are many times additional eyes and ears for park personnel, it seems Zion National Park has been very open with the dialogue and listening to the criticisms while evaluating their expectations for 2019. With regard to photography workshops operating in one of the most sought-after areas in the park, The Narrows, Zion is allowing tripod use for workshops for next year in 2019.
The usage will be evaluated throughout next year by the National Park Service for impact on the area and balancing the concern that other visitors traveling in the same area at similar times may have a negative effect for both visitors and commercial groups. Finding a balance between times of day and group size recommendations is what Zion National Park is attempting with the clarifications in the 2019 Commercial Use Authorization operators letter. This is a great way to increase discussions and additionally, a valuable way to balance conservancy and usage in The Narrows area while demonstrating how impacts can be mitigated through thoughtful and consistent communication between the NPS and commercial operators.
I’ve always regarded photographic workshop operators as a group of individuals who very directly understand the value of leaving little impact on the areas they visit while maintaining a consistent dialogue with the park personnel to work together to conserve these areas year after year. These values are taught to the individuals within the workshops and explained in a way many of us value: that we need to conserve these areas now so others can appreciate them in the future. Whether it’s for tomorrow or for our children decades from now, conservation is a tenant of anyone who works within and with the national parks.
Lead Image by Pixabay, used under Creative Commons.