http://tinyurl.com/9ppqgb Date: January 7, 2009 Contact: Ray O'Neil, 435-772-7823 Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811 Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth announced today that the number of visitors permitted to travel through the Spry Canyon canyoneering route will be increased by over 50% per day for the 2009 season. On January 1, the use limit for Spry Canyon increased from 12 people per day to 20 people per day. Zion National Park's 2007 Backcountry Management Plan developed standards to measure the health of its natural resources. In conjunction with this, a social survey was conducted to quantify the number of encounters people considered desirable and acceptable while experiencing the park's backcountry. These two standards were combined with existing management zones to create overall use limits and group size limits. In the past, the limiting factor for the number of visitors allowed in Spry Canyon was a severely eroded exit trail visible from the park road. For the last several years, canyoneers have been asked to avoid the eroded trail and follow a more durable trail down a rocky watercourse. Compliance has been outstanding. As a result, the erosion problem has been reduced to acceptable levels allowing for the increase in use limits. The trail will continue to be closely monitored to ensure that compliance remains high with the increase in use limits While canyoneering in Zion can be a challenging and rewarding activity, it is not one that should be entered into lightly. At least one member of each party should be experienced in canyoneering and the use of any required technical equipment. Hikers should also be aware of weather conditions and the possibility of flash floods. By entering into a narrow canyon, visitors take safety as their own responsibility. All persons canyoneering in the park should stop by the visitor center and talk to qualified park staff before their hike. Some canyon hikes in the park (including Spry Canyon) require advance permits. For more information on canyoneering in Zion, contact the park at 435-772-3256 or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/zion.