SALT LAKE CITY – Last fiscal year, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands awarded $645,000 in grant funding to municipalities and non-profit organizations with a vested interest in the Jordan River. This funding was used to complete projects to improve and preserve the river’s health and accessibility.
Funding for these grants is a part of ongoing legislative funding, with part of it coming from the Jordan River Recreation Zone and the Cooperative Weed Management Area funding. All project funding was matched in some capacity, either through actual dollars, in-kind contributions or volunteer hours.
Four municipalities received grant funding to complete project work along the river within their jurisdiction. Four cities and one county implemented $338,000 of funds to enhance the river corridor through restoration projects and recreation improvements.
- West Jordan City – Big Bend Project
West Jordan City has been diligently working on developing Big Bend Park for several years. In FY23, FFSL contributed $99,000 toward the project, which included preparations for the re-meandered channel and the installation of native plants. This prepares approximately 26 acres of land for future enhancements, promising the community a closer connection to nature.
- Lehi City – Willow Park Phragmites Removal Project
Lehi City initiated a multi-year Phragmites removal project at Willow Park, allocating $7,000. They hired a contractor to mow and apply aquatic-approved herbicide along the riverbank, completing the first phase clearing approximately 500 feet of riverbank. More work is planned for the coming year.
- Salt Lake County – Redwood Nature Area Phragmites Removal
Salt Lake County committed $60,000 to remove Phragmites at the Redwood Nature Area. The project involved three rounds of approved herbicide treatment and mowing/brush cutting, successfully removing approximately 15 acres of this invasive plant. Ongoing treatments will ensure the area remains Phragmites-free.
- Salt Lake County – Pioneer Crossing Park Recreational Features & Invasive Species Removal
Salt Lake County allocated $123,000 toward the development of Pioneer Crossing Park, located adjacent to the Jordan River. The park, complete with connector trails, concrete play structures, and informative signage, is now open to the public in West Valley City. In addition, the county partnered with FFSL and the Utah Conservation Corp to invest approximately $9,000 in Phragmites removal within the park, treating about one acre of land.
- Riverton City – Invasive Species Removal & Bank Stabilization Project
Riverton City took a two-pronged approach to enhance the Roy Hardy Jordan River Park. With $15,000, they targeted invasive species removal, particularly Russian Thistle and Whitetop. Additionally, an investment of $25,000 went toward designing a bioengineered stabilized bank project, which will ultimately provide safe access to the river once completed.
A total of $287,000 was invested through non-profit organizations to educate the public about the river, increase stewardship opportunities, and improve habitat.
- Tracy Aviary Jordan River Nature Center – Educational Programs & Greenhouse Project
The Tracy Aviary Jordan River Nature Center embarked on an ambitious project, investing $75,000 in constructing a new greenhouse. Although not yet complete, this greenhouse holds promise as a future native plant nursery, contributing to the restoration of indigenous vegetation along the riverbanks.
Besides the greenhouse, the Nature Center allocated $190,000 for programming and education. This comprehensive effort encompassed botany and birding walks, educational outreach on the Jordan River’s unique ecology, community events, and the careful maintenance of drought-resistant native vegetation at the site.
- Center for Documentary Expression and Art – Jordan River Migratory Bird Refuge Outdoor Classroom Initiative
The Center for Documentary Expression and Art (CDEA) invested around $15,000 in their Outdoor Classroom Initiative, an innovative program focused on environmental education. Students participated in a multidisciplinary approach to learning, covering topics like invasive species removal, native plant restoration, monitoring practices, and water control management.
- Salt Lake Fish & Game Foundation – Native Plant Restoration Project
The Salt Lake Fish & Game Foundation invested approximately $7,000 in a native plant restoration project near the Jordan River in Murray, Utah. The Foundation planted 205 native trees and shrubs, supported by mulch and a drip irrigation system, ensuring the vitality of the newly introduced vegetation.
The work along the Jordan River is not a task that is being undertaken by just non-profits and municipalities. Oakwood Homes contributed to the battle against Phragmites along the riverbank adjacent to the future Wander Homes development. A budget of $25,000 allowed them to clear approximately 300 feet of Phragmites using the spray and mow method, with further project expansion planned along the riverbank.
Approximately $645,000 was invested in these Jordan River projects, underlining a shared commitment to preserving and enhancing this invaluable natural resource. These efforts benefit the environment and provide a wealth of recreational opportunities and educational programs for the local community. As these projects develop and expand, the Jordan River will become a valued community resource and a treasured part of Utah’s landscape.