West Jordan - The Jordan River Commission held the second annual “Get into the River Festival” on May 30 to celebrate and improve the Jordan River Trail. Wells Fargo sponsored the festival day, which included activities such as sidewalk chalk art, a Selfie Scavenger Hunt, and a Mayor’s Mile.
“It was awesome,” said Mayor Kim Rolfe. “There were quite a few young children up to about 10 years old that ran, and the families ran along with the children. I had one of the funnest times I’ve ever had running with those children. I think they all enjoyed it immensely—I know I did. We look forward to it next year.”
The Jordan River Commission sponsored the event across the river, garnering support from many other cities across the valley.
According to the festival’s website, “This is the first time that nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, corporations and municipalities have come together to envision and implement a long-term plan for annually celebrating the River.”
This festival was a way for the city to raise awareness and foster a sense of community around the Jordan River Trail.
“[The festival] is really to get people down to the river trail to see that it’s a unique asset and there for everybody to use,” said Julie Brown, West Jordan’s events coordinator. “So many people don’t get down there, and when they do they realize all the great things you can do.”
Raising community awareness around the Jordan River Trail is especially important to the city, in light of the major development plan the City Council approved on the Big Bend area of the trail at its May 27 City Council meeting.
“It’s a big, long-term project,” said Kim Wells, West Jordan’s public information officer. “The Jordan River Trail Commission has been working to reclaim the river area. They’re trying to remove invasive, non-native species and restore it to the wetlands it should be.”
The Big Bend development will focus around the goal of habitat restoration as well.
The Big Bend development area will “include an urban fishery, and there will be rerouting on part of the Jordan River to facilitate some of the trail without eroding the bank of the river,” Rolfe said. “We also plan to create a wildlife area. Also, a viewing platform is part of it as well to view the wildlife and the ecosystem that will be created there.”
City Council members said they wanted to agree on a concept for development that would be low maintenance and low cost to the city.
The plans for the Big Bend development are expected to cost six to eight million dollars. The project will be funded largely by a $225,000 grant awarded to the city from the Utah Departments of Water Quality and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
At the City Council meeting, the council said it currently has $764,000 for the project. After the development is finished, the city will have to maintain everything on the trail aside from the actual river, but they are looking into possibly earning revenue from the urban fishery to offset the cost.
The project will be completed in five phases, with an expected completion date in 2030.