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Botanists studying Zion plants

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ZION NATIONAL PARK — The Kolob scenic drive in Zion National Park has been temporarily closed to allow botanists to study plants in the area.

Botanists began a comprehensive vegetation study of Zion this week, according to a national park written statement. The project will identify and measure species of plants and plant associations and map their locations.

From Monday through Sept. 1, a helicopter is shuttling botanists to remote and inaccessible backcountry, including isolated mesa tops. The flight paths and landing areas have been planned to minimize impacts to visitors and to meet national park wilderness policies, according to a National Park Service statement.

The Kolob scenic drive is closed during the helicopter trips to minimize the spread of exotic plants. There will be no other visitor access closures or restrictions for the remainder of the project.

This project will include a vegetation map of the park and surrounding areas, description of each vegetation community and computer databases of the vegetation and ecological characteristics of the species, according to the statement.

The findings of the study should provide park managers with needed information about national resource conditions upon which to base further decisions. Once completed, the map and related databases will be available to the public on the Internet.