News and Activities
"Crown Jewel" of Jordan River Restoration in Utah to Begin
Date Posted: September 11, 2007
The Great Salt Lake Audubon Society's Jordan River Restoration project, funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program, is poised to start construction on the Willow Creek Stream Restoration project in September 2007.
This project, one of the "crown jewels" of a nearly 10-year habitat restoration effort on the Jordan River, will create approximately 1/2 mile of meandering stream across the floodplain of the Jordan River, along with nearly 10 acres of associated ponds, wetlands and streamside ("riparian corridor") habitat. Project cooperators include the Great Salt Lake Audubon Society, a local chapter of the Audubon Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Utah Reclamation, Mitigation and Conservation Commission, and TreeUtah, a Salt Lake-based non-profit organization devoted to developing urban forests and connecting people to them by recruiting volunteers from the community to plant and maintain trees at a variety of restoration sites. Additional assistance on the project has been provided by IHI Environmental, Inc., a Salt Lake City-based environmental and natural resource restoration and management firm.
About the Project:
Starting in early September, crews from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will sculpt a meandering creek channel across the Jordan River Floodplain. Volunteers organized by TreeUtah will then plant more than 9,000 trees, shrubs and wetland plants along the stream and around the margins of shallow ponds and wetlands.
Once construction and planting is completed, Willow Creek will be diverted out of the drainage ditch it has occupied over 50 years and returned to its path across the floodplain.
Once water has been restored to the channel, it will saturate soils along the stream corridor and seep into wetlands and side-channels along the way, creating a lush, tree-lined corridor that supports the migratory birds and other wildlife that use the Jordan River floodplain as habitat.
This project should take about 6-8 weeks to complete, and it is anticipated that water will be flowing in the Willow Creek Channel by late October-early November.
About the USFWS's Role and the Jordan River Restoration Project:
The USFWS is funding this work through the Sharon Steel NRDA Settlement for injuries caused to natural resources by mining and mill tailings disposal and consequent contamination of the Jordan River which occurred at the Sharon Steel Mill Tailings site in Midvale Utah.
The Sharon Steel Restoration Plan was developed and is administered by the USFWS to fund restoration of habitats for migratory birds along the Jordan River that are similar to those that were injured at the Sharon Steel Site. Using this approach, the Service is able to use the settlement funds to compensate for natural resources that were lost at Sharon Steel.
The Jordan River flows through the heart of Salt Lake City, running about 50 miles from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. Historically, its floodplain was lined with dense stands of willow and cottonwood trees that provided rich habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl, as well as fish and other wildlife. Agricultural, industrial and urban development during the 20th century resulted in the loss of much of this habitat and replacement by exotic non-native trees such as tamarisk and Russian olive.
The goals of the Sharon Steel Restoration Plan are to acquire land within the Jordan River floodplain that has high potential value as riparian habitat for migratory birds, restore non-native vegetation to with native species, and to preserve and to work with conservation organizations such as the Great Salt Lake Audubon Society to preserve and protect these areas into the future.
Chris Cline, Utah Ecological Services Field Office NRDAR Coordinator, (801) 975-3330 ext 145
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Ecological Services Office JORDAN RIVER RESTORATION PROJECT
The Restoration (NRDAR) Program