FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Trails that take visitors to the depths of the Grand Canyon, along the Colorado River and into backcountry wilderness will benefit from a donation provided by Arizona's largest public utility.
The $1 million donation from Arizona Public Service Co. was split between a project to renovate the trailhead of the popular Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim and the creation of an endowment for the trail system.
Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said the money will help reduce a backlog of trail maintenance that has topped $40 million.
Don Brandt, chairman and chief executive of APS, said he would encourage others to donate to the endowment. Of the canyon's 350 miles of trails, about one-third undergo scheduled maintenance while others receive only emergency work.
"If something's not done to protect them, down the road they will be gone and lost forever," Brandt said.
Uberuaga said heavy rain, erosion and foot and mule traffic have taken a toll on the trail system. More than 37,000 people hiked the canyon's backcountry last year, he said, with more taking day hikes on other trails more accessible from the rim or the river.
The start to the Bright Angel Trail was redesigned earlier this year to include an etched rock sign marking the trailhead, a new paved parking lot, new restrooms and a plaza for hikers to rest. The trail was one of the first entryways into the Grand Canyon, built by the Havasupai people.