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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

Contact:         Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408                                                 Chris Cline 801-975-3330 x145

 The Jordan River Floodplain Habitat Restoration Project

 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission, Great Salt Lake Audubon, West Jordan City, and TreeUtah will begin habitat restoration activities along the Jordan River in West Jordan and South Jordan beginning October 18 and continue for approximately 10 days.

 Activities will include the removal of non-native trees and weeds (primarily tamarisk and Russian olive), creation and restoration of river meanders and side-stream channels, and replanting of native trees, shrubs, and grasses to create diverse functional wildlife habitat.

 Removal of the invasive, non-native trees is the first step in restoring these sites.  Although Russian olive and tamarisk densely crowd the river bank and floodplain in some areas, they provide relatively little nesting and feeding habitat for migratory birds when compared to native tree and shrub species.  Although the tree removal process will temporarily create a more open, bare floodplain in the project areas, the completed restoration process, which is expected to take approximately two years, will result in a much more biologically rich and diverse habitat areas.  A glimpse of what the area will look like after planting can be seen on a parcel south of 106th South that was planted in 1997 and 1998.  After five years, peach-leaf willow trees are taller than head height, and there is a dense understory of native shrubs.

 In 1997, land along the Jordan River was purchased with funds provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission for the purpose of restoring habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.  FWS funds came from a settlement for natural resource damage at the Sharon Steel Superfund site, located downstream from the project areas.  Funds from the Mitigation Commission are linked with mitigation for the Central Utah Project, a large water development project in northern Utah. 

If you are interested in conducting interviews on the project or obtaining photos of the tree mulching, contact the Project Manager, Chris Cline at 801-975-3330 x145 

Background Information Regarding the Jordan River Habitat Restoration Project: 

When European settlers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, the Jordan River meandered through a floodplain that was covered with a dense carpet of willows and other shrubs, with scattered “galleries” of cottonwood and box elder trees.  These areas, known as  riparian (streamside) habitat, are extremely important biologically, providing food, cover and breeding areas for migratory songbirds and many other wildlife species. 

 In the western United States, many migratory songbirds require the food and shelter resources that can only be found in healthy and diverse riparian habitats.  So, as the native riparian tree canopy along the Jordan River has been lost, habitat for these birds—which are facing population declines on a global scale—has also been lost.

 In 1997, land along the Jordan River was purchased with funds provided by the FWS and the Mitigation Commission for the purpose of restoring habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.  FWS funds came from a settlement for natural resource damage at the Sharon Steel Superfund site, located downstream from the project areas.  Funds from the Mitigation Commission are linked with mitigation for the Central Utah Project (CUP) a large water development project in northern Utah.   

Management and restoration of these lands is provided by Great Salt Lake Audubon (GSLA) and the city of West Jordan, in cooperation with the FWS, Mitigation Commission, TreeUtah and individual citizens.  Restoration activities include removal of non-native trees and weeds, creation and restoration of river meanders and side-stream channels, and replanting with native tree, shrub and grass species to create diverse, functional wildlife habitat. 

Removal of the invasive, non-native trees is the first step in restoring these sites.  Although Russian olive and tamarisk densely crowd the river bank and floodplain in some areas, they provide relatively little nesting and feeding habitat for migratory birds when compared to native tree and shrub species.  Although the tree removal process will temporarily create a more open, bare floodplain in the project areas, the completed restoration process, which is expected to take approximately two years, will result in a much more biologically rich and diverse habitat areas.  A glimpse of what the area will look like after planting can be seen on a parcel south of 106th South that was planted in 1997 and 1998.  After five years, peach-leaf willow trees are taller than head height, and there is a dense understory of native shrubs.

 Habitat restoration at 106th South will return Willow Creek to a channel that traverses the floodplain before entering the Jordan River.  At 90th South, the Jordan River will be re-routed from a straight-line channel that skirts the edge of the floodplain to a channel that approximates its original meandering course.  Both of these new channels will support a mosaic of wetlands, flowing water areas and uplands across the project areas.  After the stream renovations are completed, large areas of native peach-leaf willow and coyote willow will be planted.  Taller, “upper canopy” tree species such as cottonwood and box elder will also be planted to provide nesting habitat and feeding habitat for bird species that forage for insects under leaves and bark.  These trees will eventually provide perches in their upper branches for raptors to use as they hunt their prey.  A variety of shrub species will also be planted, including aromatic sumac, golden current, and wild rose.  These will provide additional habitat variety, as well as providing food sources for birds and other wildlife that feed on berries and seeds.   

Once these restoration activities are completed, the lands will be managed as wildlife habitat.  While recreational facilities and trails will not be built within these areas, existing trail networks such as the Jordan River Parkway will provide wildlife viewing opportunities. These lands will also serve an ongoing scientific and educational role, with long-term monitoring performed by both professional and volunteer naturalists to track changes in bird and other wildlife use as the restored vegetation matures. 

WHERE:

South Jordan, Utah --two large areas on the east side of the Jordan River, centered on 106th South

West Jordan, Utah -- one large area on the west side of the Jordan River north of 90th South. 

HOW:

Tree removal on the floodplain will be performed by Skyline Reclamation, a Utah-owned small business from Fairview, Utah.  A large machine, similar to a front-end loader, fitted with a rotating chipper will be used to cut down the trees and chip them into mulch.  This mulch will later act to suppress weeds and retain water for the trees that will be planted in the area.  This machine will be sure to impress anyone who is a fan of Tonka© Trucks, as it moves fairly rapidly and quickly reduces even large trees into wood chips in a matter of minutes.  Keep in mind that although the mulched areas will look bare after the trees are removed, long-term vision will produce a picture of a much-improved plant and animal  community.

                                                                        -FWS-

 visit the Mountain Prairie Region website at:  http://www.mountain-prairie.fws.gov

 

 

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