By Soren Simonsen, Guest Blogger
DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.
The fifth annual Get to The River Festival is in full swing on the Jordan River.
The Festival was launched five years ago as a way to raise awareness about the Jordan River and expand audiences of engaged outdoor recreation enthusiasts, conservationists, river advocates, and volunteers. The Get Into The River Festival brings together local governments, the community, and businesses to celebrate, discover, explore, recreate and restore the Jordan River Parkway corridor.
The Jordan River is a unique river in Utah. It is only 50 miles in length, originating from Utah Lake in Saratoga Springs and flowing northward to Farmington Bay at the Great Salt Lake in Davis County. It traverses three counties and 16 cities through the most urbanized area of Utah. An estimated one-fourth of the population of Utah lives within 10 minutes of the river.
Industry, agriculture and community development have had a tremendous impact on the river over the past two centuries. Many of these impacts have impaired water quality, wildlife habitat, the health of the river, and its scenic beauty. As in many cities across the country, the greater Wasatch metro area is rediscovering and revitalizing this hidden gem.
The Blueprint Jordan River was created in 2010 as a broad community vision to improve the Jordan River Parkway corridor. The Jordan River Commission was formed in 2010 as a coordinating agency to support the implementation of the Blueprint. The Get Into The River Festival was launched by the Commission and other partners in 2014, and has expanded from a two-day event in its early years to a full month of activities.
With the recent completion of the entire 45-mile Jordan River Parkway Trail in November 2017, several new events have been added this year that utilize the entire Jordan River Parkway Trail.
Recreation events include walking, cycling and paddling activities for all ages and abilities. Education and discovery events include nature walks, bird watching, citizen science and educational programs, often as part of larger community events. Conservation and restoration activities include numerous volunteer opportunities for invasive weed management, planting and seeding, and litter and trash collection on the trail and in the river.
This year’s festival also added several arts and cultural activities, including a children’s choir Beatles tribute in Riverton and a 9/11 memorial and children’s patriotic bike parade in West Valley City. RiverFest is back again this year, expanding and moving to a new location at Salt Lake City’s magnificent International Peace Gardens at Jordan River Park.
The 2018 festival runs through the month of September. The whole lineup of events and other information is available at the official Festival website GettoTheRiver.org.
I am the Executive Director of the Jordan River Commission. The Commission is an inter-local agency working to implement the vision for the Jordan River Parkway.