Wednesday, 14 September 2016 20:30

Project underway to ‘daylight’ three creeks entering Jordan River

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by Kyle LaMalfa

Imagine being able to walk or ride a bike from your house, along a stream, to any of the seven canyons of the Wasatch mountains. Imagine narrow, natural corridors, where fish swim in the stream with birds chirping in the trees, stretching from the Jordan River to the top of the Wasatch canyons. This is the vision of the Seven Canyons Trust: that one of Utah’s greatest assets, the Wasatch Front Mountains, would be connected to the Jordan River along urban trails and restored creeks, as it was 100 years ago.

This vision of a fully connected trail system was pioneered in a formal way by former Salt Lake City planning director, Stephen Goldsmith, under the stewardship of the Seven Canyons Trust. Mr. Goldsmith and the Trust anticipate that a project of this scale, including participation from private parties, cities, counties and the State of Utah, could take 100 years to complete.

Glendale is where the work begins. When I was a city council member, I caught the vision and convinced the other six members to begin funding the Three Creeks Project. Red Butte, Emigration, and Parley's Creeks – three of the seven creeks of the Wasatch mountains – come together at the corner of 900 West and 1300 South near the Jordan River in Glendale.

Community leaders support the project too. Poplar Grove Vice-Chair Dennis Faris says, “I’m totally in favor. Way cool. Just build it already.” As member of Salt Lake City’s Parks, Natural Areas and Urban Trails board, Dennis has been watching the project come to life on paper for years.

Currently, the confluence is paved over with a dead-end segment of the 1300 South right-of-way, and the open space land to either side is impacted by invasive species, garbage, and encroachments from private property. The Three Creeks Project would have all three creeks brought to the surface and the nearby river area cleaned up, restored and improved to support fishing, boating and relaxing.

“Buried under the asphalt, all the water that drains out of the Wasatch from Grandeur Peak to Black Mountain flows into the river here, but you’d never know it by the current appearance of the space,” said Lewis Kogan, the Open Space Lands Manager of Salt Lake City.

Sean Crossland, the new chair of the Glendale Community Council, adds that “The Glendale Community Council has shown much interest and support in conservation-minded improvement projects for the Jordan River trail.” He adds that, “Three Creeks will provide a highly visible and engaging access point to the Jordan River, cut the distance from the Sorenson Center, and hopefully increase multi-use of the river.”

The Three Creeks Project will take many years to complete. This year, the Salt Lake City Council added additional funding to the project to begin construction on the basic elements of the infrastructure.

“With funding from the federal government, the SLC Council and several city agencies, a design strategy to heal, repair and transform a parking lot into a neighborhood park is near,” said Stephen Goldsmith of the Seven Canyons Trust.

Over the summer three public open houses were held to gather feedback about what the community preferences were for the confluence. Out of 102 votes, the top four responses to the question of “How Will You Use This Site?” included environmental education (18), bird watching (16), meditation/relaxing (16), and biking (12).

The city is looking for more input from residents and community members to inform the design, which is expected to be finalized in late September. To fill out the online survey, click here: https://usu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3P2z2GbCYIMxinz.

For photos, plans, and ongoing information about the project, check out these websites:

http://www.sevencanyonstrust.org/

http://www.slcgov.com/open-space/three-creeks-confluence-project