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Nature in the City -- A Riparian Restoration Masterplan for Salt Lake City, Utah


Nature in the City logo

--An Urban Riparian Restoration Master Plan for Salt Lake City--

900 South Oxbow nature park, west bank Jordan River, Salt Lake City UT

Above:  new Fred and Ila Fife Wetlands Preserve, west bank Jordan River at 900 South, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 1, 2015

Think globally, act locally:  we're doing it right here every single day at the world headquarters of the Earth Restoration Network.


The Earth Restoration Network and Jordan River Restoration Project are proud to announce a plan to create a connected series of parks, trails, nature parks, nature education centers, and ecosystem, wildlife and migratory bird habitat and wetlands restoration projects running across the heart of the largest metropolitan area in the Intermountain West.

Within Salt Lake City, the proposed Nature in the City urban wilds greenway would encompass about 800 acres of land within at least a dozen large and small blocks of existing parks and potential future  native plant restoration areas along a parkway corridor crossing the very center of the city at a point just two miles east of the Utah State Capital building.

With this vision in place, the senseless, costly and  relentless destruction of lands within the Jordan River flood plain can be halted and reversed within Utah's capitol city.

The photo above shows a brand new "nature park", which exists entirely because of spontaneous, citizen-based, local initiative right here in my neighborhood.  Salt Lake valley's only river--the Jordan River--flows right past my home, under my kitchen, living room, and dining room windows.   Just a couple of hundred yards downstream, the new wetlands pond shown above was installed last fall, within a brand new nature park   Per our recommendations, all non-native plants were removed from this 6-acre parcel of land--formerly a weed lot with a railroad line crossing it--the new wetlands pond was scooped out, river water was directed through intake and outflow pipes across the pond, and the entire site was replanted with native plants.  This is a "nature park"-- a place where Nature rules.   Yes there are wildlife observation stations and a graveled hiking trail running around the perimeter.  But that's it.  The rest is "nature" as God and evolution designed it.   Already, after drenching spring rains, the recently planted native grasses, shrubs and trees are beginning to flourish, and a floating, gently undulating magic carpet of zooming cliff and barn swallows hovers low over the surface of the pond in morning and evening hours.

But our organization's "Jordan River Restoration Project" has gone much, much further with this great "nature park" idea.  We have launched a citizen-based initiative to create not just one, but seventeen additional nature parks, forming a continuous green chain along the Jordan River corridor all the way across Salt Lake City.   A total of 800 acres of restored wildlife habitat, smack in the center of the largest metropolitan area in our Intermountain West region, and a critical missing urban choke-point link in overlapping arms of not one but two international migratory bird flyways.  And we propose that this chain of life right through the center of our city be extended, over time, all the way down the entire length of our small, 55-mile river--all the way "from "lake"(Utah Lake, upstream) to "lake" (the Great Salt Lake, downstream).   See the links below for a full description of our visionary plan.  Here's a partial map:

Nature in the City Proposal Map -- south sectionMap at left:  south end of the proposed Nature in the City park system.  For an interactive boundary map for the entire system, click on the map at left.

(-thanks, Google.  In so many ways you are powering this project)

Links to Nature in the City

Nature in the City Web Page

Nature in the City Facebook Page

2-page executive summary  (.pdf download)

36-page Descriptive Picture Book  (.pdf download)

Project components

Nature in the City Park System Map

Interactive Parcel Map showing land ownership parcel boundaries and zoning information for the Jordan River Corridor

Salt Lake County Assessor Parcel Search Tool (showing land ownership  and valuation)

Endorsing Organizations

Background on the political and financial context of the proposal

Benefits of the Proposed Park System

Successful Urban Riparian Restoration Projects in Other Cities

Previous Jordan River Studies and Reports (Acrobat .pdf document)

Blueprint Jordan River Report

Daylighting Salt Lake's City Creek: An Urban River Unentombed (Acrobat.pdf document)

Letter of Support for Golf Course to Nature Park Conversion  (Acrobat.pdf document)

--Ray WheelerEarth Restoration Network Project Director

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