SALT LAKE CITY – As an unprecedented national government shutdown continues, Utah achieved its own national precedent Thursday: a single private sector company, Alsco Inc., is stepping up to keep the national parks open through at least President’s Day weekend.
Alsco, a Utah based linen and uniform rental company, donated $100,000 Thursday to underwrite expanded visitor and custodial services at Zion, Bryce and Arches national parks. By expanding on the skeleton services that have been provided to date, investment creates a welcoming and pristine experience for national park visitors. Expanded assistance is needed as the parks go into their busy season.
Alsco’s contribution will ensure visitor and custodial services are provided at Zion from February 5 through March 9th, Bryce and Arches through Presidents’ Day weekend. The dates differ park by park because Alsco is extending custom agreements with multiple partners at each park to create seamless underwriting.
Since the start of the federal shutdown on Dec. 22, several public and non-profit partners have worked together to underwrite costs for skeleton crews at the parks. Partners include three national parks foundations, the city of St. George, Washington County and the Utah Office of Tourism. Alsco is the first private sector partner to underwrite the parks in Utah and may be the only business in the country underwriting operations at three national parks.
The Alsco/Utah partnership was inspired when Bob Steiner, co-CEO, read about the national park support being provided during the shutdown by foundations, the city of St. George, Washington County and the Utah Office of Tourism.
“I was inspired when I heard about how our state is stepping up to protect these natural resources. The senior management at Alsco discussed the idea and we decided we wanted to do our part.” Steiner said. “Alsco is a Utah based company whose employees are inspired by local patriotism and pride in Utah’s natural treasures. Our contribution is intended to help out visitors who have planned their vacations to these beautiful parks and to also ensure the businesses and residents that rely on tourism in these areas are supported.”
Alsco worked in collaboration with Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, and the Utah Office of Tourism to define a plan that would best protect the visitor experience and natural environment. McCay said the public-private partnership was the reasonable next step in the shutdown.
“Days like this make me proud to be a Utahn,” McCay said. “We are taking a different path than most other states by bringing public and private partners together to solve a hard problem – a problem that is big enough to see and small enough to solve. Our parks will continue to be welcoming to visitors through Alsco’s contribution.”
The $100,000 contribution is being allocated to three foundations that support the national parks, and is distributed according to the projected February visitation of the parks. The largest allocation, $62,300, goes to the Zion Forever Project, supporting Zion National Park. Canyonlands Natural History Association, which supports Arches National Park, receives $19,600. Bryce Canyon Natural History Association will receive $18,100. February 2018 visitation was 127,790 at Zion, 40,325 at Arches and 37,132 at Bryce Canyon.
If the federal government shutdown ends before the money is used, Alsco will work with the natural history foundations to apply the remaining funds toward high-priority park programs. Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches are part of what is known as Utah’s Mighty Five national parks.
The other two national parks, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef, are not currently being underwritten because their seasonal visitation projections are much lower than Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches.
“Many times, people only look to the government or the state to solve issues,” Senate President Elect Stuart Adams said. “In Utah, we have people who step forward to help solve problems. I want to express my gratitude and thank Bob and Kevin Steiner for being part of the solution. The Steiner family and other families like them make me proud to live in Utah. I’m grateful for how people in our state step up to get things done.”