October 10, 2016

Commission gets things done along the Jordan River

Commission gets things done along the Jordan River Commission gets things done along the Jordan River Commission gets things done along the Jordan River Commission gets things done along the Jordan River
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By The West View

By Dorothy Owen and Charlotte Fife-Jepperson

The 50-mile Jordan River passes through fifteen cities and three counties along the Wasatch Front. Historically, there has been a lack of coordination among these different municipalities. That was until the Jordan River Commission was formed in 2010.

The Jordan River Commission is a public entity created to help implement the Blueprint Jordan River, a regional plan outlining a future vision of the entire Jordan River corridor.

The Blueprint Jordan River was the result of a year-long planning effort in 2008 involving nearly 3,000 public workshop participants. In these workshops, people from all along the Wasatch Front identified a vision of the river as a 7,300-acre nature corridor with trails, open space, wildlife viewing and recreation opportunities. Many other ideas and goals, such as stormwater management, environmental education, and rehabilitation of former industrial areas into “river centers” with recreation and dining, were identified. The final Blueprint plan received a resolution of support from the majority of local governments adjacent to the river.

Currently 25 governmental entities have signed an interlocal cooperation agreement as members of the Jordan River Commission (JRC). These members represent 14 cities, three counties, two state agencies and six special service districts, including the Utah Transit Authority, the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, and several water treatment facilities.

In a most unusual organizational framework, the JRC’s Governing Board has more members than members of the commission itself. The Governing Board has 36 voting members of which two-thirds are government entities and one-third are non-governmental or community partners. The community members have a variety of perspectives including recreation, environment, education, business, land ownership, utilities/infrastructure, and fundraising/development.

The JRC’s purpose is to “enhance, preserve, protect, and responsibly develop the river corridor.” The commission and its small staff raise public awareness, promote coordination among numerous stakeholders and assist in the implementation of projects identified in the Blueprint in accordance with a strategic plan.

The Jordan River Commission is a successful model of how interlocal government entities can work with each other and the greater community to achieve large public goals.

They developed a corridor-wide invasive vegetation management calendar and treatment schedule, and a GIS inventory of all remaining open space along the river. They developed best practices for riverfront communities including a model ordinance, checklist and available resources. They co-host the annual Get Into the River Festival which happens every spring in different municipalities along the river. They also fund various projects. For example, they gave $205,639 toward future completion of the gap in the Jordan River Parkway trail between 200 South and North Temple, $81,000 toward puncturevine management over a three-year period, and $15,000 toward Salt Lake County’s annual Watershed Symposium.

Specific projects are funded by either grants or private donations. Basic administrative funding for the JRC (mostly staffing) comes from annual fees charged to its members based upon a formula with equal weights for an entity’s population, geographic area, and linear river frontage.

How to Get Involved?

The Jordan River Commission meets at 9 a.m. on the first Thursday of every month, usually at Taylorsville City Hall. Time is set aside at the end of each meeting for public comment. Members of the public can also request to be on the agenda. Staff will accept such requests by phone, mail or email at any time and the item will be placed on the next available agenda. Agendas are closed a week prior to the meeting.

For more information and a comprehensive look at , visit their website at www.jordanrivercommission.com.

Who makes up the Jordan River Commission?

25 Government Members:

  • 3 counties: Davis, Salt Lake and Utah
  • 14 cities: Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, North Salt Lake, Riverton, Sandy, Salt Lake City, Saratoga Springs, South Jordan, South Salt Lake, Taylorsville, West Jordan, and West Valley City. (Murray City is the only major governmental entity along the river corridor not included on the Commission.)\
  • 2 state agencies: Utah Dept. of Environmental Quality, Utah Dept. of Natural Resources
  • 6 special service districts: Utah Transit Authority, and others (see website)

Who makes up the JRC’s governing board?

  • 4 county members – Utah County, Davis County, and two from Salt Lake County, the mayor and a council member
  • 13 city representatives
  • 4 state government representatives from the Governor’s Office, the State Legislature, the Utah Division of Water Quality, and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands.
  • 6 special service districts: UTA, Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, South Davis and Central Valley Water Treatment Facilities, Worker’s Compensation Fund, and the Utah State Fair Park.
  • 7 community partners: Jordan River Foundation, the Wasatch Rowing Foundation, Tracy Aviary, Chevron Oil Company, Rocky Mountain Power, Zions Bank, and one Community at-large member – Simon Sorenson. Two vacancies exist.

Staff Support:

  • Executive Director Laura Hanson, AICP ()
  • Brian Tonetti, Program & Policy Planner ()
  • Michaela Boothe, Executive Assistant (
  • Technical Assistance Committee - 42 members listed on website