Easement protects start of Zion Narrows trail

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An environmental group paid $1.4 million for a conservation easement at the start of one of Zion National Park's most popular trails.

Many hikers on the Zion Narrows Trail start two miles east of the park, on a private ranch. They follow the North Fork of the Virgin River as it drops into Zion National Park.

By buying development rights to the 258-acre Chamberlain Ranch, The Trust for Public Land says it prevented a plan to subdivide the ranch into smaller home sites.

The Trust used money from the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service's Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the New Venture Fund and the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation Non-Motorized Trail Matching Fund Program.

Every year, thousands of hikers make the trip through Zion Narrows in a day or two. It's one of the most famous slot canyons on the Colorado Plateau.