Jordan River

Jordan RiverFor decades, the Jordan River didn’t receive the attention or value that it deserved. In many ways, it was more a dumping ground for polluted water than an amenity. Dredging and straightening altered the river and narrowed its channel, and the invasive vegetation marred the ecosystem. The unkempt banks of the river kept many people away and became a harbor for homeless camps. All that started to change in 2008 when Envision Utah helped bring numerous stakeholders together to form a vision for the river called “Blueprint Jordan River.” Mayors and staff from fifteen cities and three counties participated in the effort, and Salt Lake County played a large role supporting the process that included public surveys and workshops, stakeholder meetings, and other outreach methods. Before long, the vision became clear: Utahns wanted a “blue-green” trail connecting Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake for boaters, cyclists, pedestrians, and wildlife enthusiasts. This vision would create a 7,300-acre linear nature preserve with more natural meanders, wetlands, and biodiversity; improved water quality and water flow; and regional transportation access to the river through trails, TRAX, and other facilities. In 2008, that vision was revolutionary. Now, it’s almost a reality. Envision Utah’s work paved the way for the creation of the Jordan River Commission, which has carried the vision forward. Now, the funding is in place for the last piece to complete the more-than-fifty-mile trail. There’s certainly more work to be done, but this is a monumental achievement. When finished, the Jordan River will boast one of the longest continuous paved trail systems in the United States. We’d like to take a moment to thank Laura Hanson for her tireless dedication for years as the Executive Director of the Jordan River Commission. She’s now taking her talents elsewhere, but our gratitude goes out to her. She oversaw the river’s transformation from a stormwater conveyance ditch to a regional amenity. Thanks to her and to cooperative visions like Blueprint Jordan River, the Wasatch Front is a better place to live. The Jordan River is a shining example: when Utahns work together, we accomplish great things.