PHOENIX, Ariz - Arizona Public Service (APS) has gifted $1 million to Grand Canyon Association (GCA) to help preserve and maintain Grand Canyon National Park's extensive and popular trail system.
"This gift will support the Bright Angel Trail renovation and also support a new endowment called Grand Canyon Trails Forever," said Susan Schroeder, executive director of the GCA, a nonprofit partner of Grand Canyon National Park. "This endowment will protect Grand Canyon's world renowned trails. This is one of the most signifi-
-cant private philanthropic gifts in Grand Canyon's history."
The Trails Forever endowment gives ongoing funding to help maintain the approximately 350 miles of trail at Grand Canyon; 126 miles already receive regular maintenance by the National Park Service.
During a press conference at Heard Museum in Phoenix, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said the park's base budget for trails is around $560,000. The park has an overall maintenance backlog of more than $300 million, and $20 million is attributed to the trail system.
"This is a fantastic moment for Grand Canyon National Park," Uberuaga said. "These are trails that have been used by our ancestors for thousands of years as they traveled through the Canyon. This is an incredible opportunity to preserve and maintain."
The endowment will help the Grand Canyon trail crew maintain and improve many more miles of backcountry trails in addition to the popular main corridor trails like the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab and North Kaibab Trails and the River Trail. The park has already used part of the money to help renovate the Bright Angel Trailhead.
Ninety-eight percent of the Grand Canyon's 1.2 million acres are in the backcountry and only accessible by the trail system. In 2013, Grand Canyon National Park hosted more than 37,000 overnight backcountry users and each day around 1,500 hikers use the trails, which are affected yearly by the heavy monsoon season.
Uberuaga said that with proper construction and maintenance, trails can "ride out the monsoon."
APS has a long history of giving back to the Arizona community and has become an important partner for the Grand Canyon, participating in large volunteer projects, donating photovoltaic solar equipment for use and education, and providing power to the Canyon since 1955.
"Grand Canyon has been a part of APS since 1955 when we began serving electricity to the Canyon," said Don Brant, APS chairman and CEO. "I hope the size of this will inspire other businesses and individuals in Arizona to consider making a gift to the Grand Canyon Association and around the country to forge partnerships between the private sector and our national parks."