In less than two hours on a Saturday in May a small group of citizen scientists fanned out across a 7 ½-acre wetlands preserve in west Salt Lake City and made 210 observations of 44 different wildlife species.
The day could not have been more beautiful, as these nature-curious volunteers combed the new Fred and Ila Rose Fife Wetland Preserve on 900 South and the Jordan River looking for plant and animal life to photograph with their cell phone and tablet cameras. They were helping to launch Salt Lake City Open Space Lands pilot “SLC Neighborhood Naturalists” program by participating in a “bioblitz,” where volunteers find and identify as many species as possible in a given place during a given time, and have fun connecting with nature in the process.
The Fife Wetlands Preserve was largely created with funding from Chevron as mitigation for their 2010 oil spill in Red Butte Creek, and also from SLC’s Capital Improvement Fund. The Salt Lake County Fish and Game Association, a longtime wildlife-oriented nonprofit that I am involved with, drafted the original plan for the preserve’s general layout. Early on, it was displayed at Poplar Grove’s “Groove in the Grove” community festival to allow west side residents to give input to the city about what was then called the Oxbow Wetlands project.
Several years later it is amazing how similar the project reflects what came out of that grassroots effort. Creation of a large off-channel pond, and efforts to restore native vegetation have largely been successful, however the implementation of future best practices and some introductions of other native plants and animals will be necessary for the site to reach its full potential of attracting and retaining diverse, non-habituated wildlife. These bioblitzes should help.
One of the most significant efforts for any long-term restoration project like The Fife Wetlands Preserve is monitoring the ecological changes over time. In partnership with The Natural History Museum of Utah, the city is utilizing volunteers to help accomplish this lofty monitoring goal by organizing ongoing bioblitz events at various natural open space sites around the city.
SLC Neighborhood Naturalist volunteers attempt to create baseline inventories of biodiversity at these sites by taking photos and uploading them to a website through an app called iNaturalist, a social network created for people all over the world who make observations of living organisms. The observations are stored on the website, and can be confirmed by other iNaturalist users. Land managers can then share that information with the public and can use the inventory as a guide for future nature restoration projects.
To help get a more complete inventory of shy, migratory birds (like the snowy egret, local kingfisher, and a lesser goldfinch I was able to photograph at the preserve before the eager group of bioblitz volunteers arrived), individuals and local naturalists who visit the site more routinely could add to the collection of observations using the iNaturalist app on their own time.
Many Salt Lake City residents may not even notice our valley’s only river as they zoom across its many bridges in their cars. Due to continuous dredging of its channel and building up of its stream banks the river has sunk out of sight below the surface of the city. However this small, muddy stream is a defining feature of our valley and of Salt Lake City’s west side neighborhoods. Its slender ribbon of green is for the most part, well hidden and little traveled.
On a brilliant May morning the stretch of river between 900 and 1300 South is teeming with plant and animal life. It’s been a cool, wet spring. The water level has been unusually high since mid-March. Drenching rains and high water have caused an explosion of plant growth. Already some bank grasses are taller than I am, with full, heavy seed heads. The largest trees on either bank meet overhead to form a canopy-covered tunnel. The bow of my kayak cuts silently across the liquid mirror that is the tunnel floor. On its sliding surface the floor holds a stationary image of the arched ceiling, adding to the vault above a matching vault below, providing an illusion of grand height to an intimate passageway.
Cutting under an especially large tree branch, I notice a rock squirrel racing along it, its body and tail undulating smoothly. The grace of this casual athleticism is arresting. Running at breakneck speed, never hesitating at intersections, it climbs higher and higher in the canopy until, perhaps 30 feet above the river surface, it performs a lateral trampoline bounce to the bobbing end of a branch reaching out from the opposite bank. I smile with admiration at such agility, imagining the squirrel is equally pleased with itself. Clearly the sky-bridge is a regular squirrel highway. In this many-layered world, one creature’s vaulted roof is another’s floor, just as the water-floor supporting my kayak is also a ceiling for those leviathans of the deep, the common carp.
There is strong wind. Occasionally I can hear distant traffic roar, a car alarm, a train horn, but the wind masks these sounds. Every surface of the tunnel is alive with wind-stir. I follow the curving riverbank on my left, keeping the edge of the boat just inches off shore, steering with my offshore paddle blade. I’m moving upstream at the pace of a slow pedestrian, but the onrushing river current offers the sensation of speed.
As I pass a solid wall of pinkish-white wild rose blossoms, its outermost bouquets almost sweep my face. Further along a small grove of wild yellow irises borders a large eddy pool. At a height of three to four feet above water level their sword-blade stalks and drooping flowers tower overhead like old-growth forest monarchs.
A flotilla of fuzzy yellow mallard ducklings skitters across the polished surface, tweeting urgently but softly, before disappearing into a thicket of branches. The mother duck zigzags ahead, feigning a broken wing to draw me away from the chicks.
Beaver gnaw-sign is everywhere. On my evening paddles I often see a fearsomely large male beaver that used to play mind games with our 95-pound Rottweiler. It has lived in the neighborhood for decades and has grown to record size. I spot him nosing upstream. His tail hits the water with a crack like a rifle shot, followed by a melodious plunk as his raised body plunges under water.
At a certain log where I often find them lounging, a pair of box turtles slides diagonally into the water, plunking loudly from view like two dropped stones. A baby muskrat surfaces near my boat and angles off into the submerged doorway to its riverbank home.
Just ahead a female cormorant breaks suddenly, like a Loch Ness monster from the deep. Its glossy body seems unnaturally large because it is so close. At the sight of my fast-closing boat, it immediately whips its wet, dripping wings and lumbers, pterodactyl-like into flight.
Passing the face of a sawn-off Crack Willow trunk, I catch a branch, pulling the boat to a stop and holding my position to watch a steady stream of small white stars filling the river’s dark surface. It is a flotilla of just-released cottonwood seeds. The little stars swing around the stump into an eddy pool just as my kayak would, where they make a couple of turns before exiting downstream. I study this real-time map of river’s surface currents with interest.
All of this continuous movement – the star stream, the wind-waves, the tossing branches and leaves, the animals and birds, my own quick-turning boat – is an improvisational ballet of overwhelming complexity, synchronicity, and beauty. “If there is magic on this planet,” Loren Eisley wrote “it is contained in water.” That’s why in 2010 my wife and I bought a house on the west bank of the Jordan River at 1000 South. We paddle, walk or bike daily on the river and Jordan River Parkway trail. For many years we walked our dog multiple times daily through the 65 acres of city parkland surrounding our house. We can carry a kayak from our garage door to river’s edge in less than a minute. The river corridor itself – not just our 50 x 100 foot house lot – is our home.
I am a US citizen who will be at least 18 by November 8, but I am not registered to vote. How can I vote in this election?
Voting is one of the most important contributions that you can make to your community. Get registered online at www.vote.utah.gov or in person by November 1 at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office at 2001 S State Street, #S1-200, or by October 10 for mail-in registration. (Most libraries and post offices have mail-in registration forms.) It is possible to register provisionally on Election Day (November 8), but proof of identity and address must be verifiable.
Why should I vote? There are so many candidates that I have never heard of.
True, there are a lot of candidates and they are not always easy to research, but keep three things in mind: 1) You can go to www.vote.utah.gov to view your sample ballot by typing in your address, 2) you would not invalidate a ballot if you were to skip any part of it – this is not a recommendation, just a fact, and 3) the easiest way to research the majority of candidates is to take advantage of the lieutenant governors postcard offer to receive a voter guide in your mailbox – call 801-538-1041, if you missed it. You would still need to check your sample ballot for local school board and county races. You can look up the research those candidates online, in your daily newspaper or attend a local candidate forum.
Nobody knows anything about those judges! Why do I have to vote for them?
Utah judges serve six-year terms and face retention elections every even numbered year. There is no party affiliation, and no competitive campaigning for judicial positions in Utah. Voters are simply asked to vote on whether a judge should stay in his/her position. (Very few judges ever fail a retention election.) This is all for very good reason, but it means that the average person has little awareness of judicial performance even if he/she recognizes a couple of names from news articles.
Remember, you could skip any section and still have the rest of your ballot count, but second, you do have resources to inform yourself: judges.utah.gov provides a survey conducted by the Judicial Conduct Commission. Click “Judge Reports” and select Salt Lake County from the drop down, then “View Complete List.” This information is also part of the voter guide sent out by the lieutenant governor’s office. Call 801-538-1041 if you didn’t get the postcard.
If I am a felon, can I vote?
Actually, in the state of Utah, only currently incarcerated felons are barred from voting. Voting may be a way to feel like a member of society again because it is something that a responsible citizen does.
How do I find out if I am registered? I did vote a long time ago, but maybe that was before I moved.
So easy to check: go to slco.org/clerk/elections or call 385-GOT-VOTE (385-468-8683).
I don’t vote because it is inconvenient to go to the polling place, and also it keeps changing.
Most voting is done by mail. Visit the Salt Lake County Clerk’s website to make sure that you are registered at slco.org/clerk/elections/current-election-information or call 385-468-8683. You can still vote in person if you bring ID, just use the same resources to find the polling location.
Imagine being able to walk or ride a bike from your house, along a stream, to any of the seven canyons of the Wasatch mountains. Imagine narrow, natural corridors, where fish swim in the stream with birds chirping in the trees, stretching from the Jordan River to the top of the Wasatch canyons. This is the vision of the Seven Canyons Trust: that one of Utah’s greatest assets, the Wasatch Front Mountains, would be connected to the Jordan River along urban trails and restored creeks, as it was 100 years ago.
This vision of a fully connected trail system was pioneered in a formal way by former Salt Lake City planning director, Stephen Goldsmith, under the stewardship of the Seven Canyons Trust. Mr. Goldsmith and the Trust anticipate that a project of this scale, including participation from private parties, cities, counties and the State of Utah, could take 100 years to complete.
Glendale is where the work begins. When I was a city council member, I caught the vision and convinced the other six members to begin funding the Three Creeks Project. Red Butte, Emigration, and Parley's Creeks – three of the seven creeks of the Wasatch mountains – come together at the corner of 900 West and 1300 South near the Jordan River in Glendale.
Community leaders support the project too. Poplar Grove Vice-Chair Dennis Faris says, “I’m totally in favor. Way cool. Just build it already.” As member of Salt Lake City’s Parks, Natural Areas and Urban Trails board, Dennis has been watching the project come to life on paper for years.
Currently, the confluence is paved over with a dead-end segment of the 1300 South right-of-way, and the open space land to either side is impacted by invasive species, garbage, and encroachments from private property. The Three Creeks Project would have all three creeks brought to the surface and the nearby river area cleaned up, restored and improved to support fishing, boating and relaxing.
“Buried under the asphalt, all the water that drains out of the Wasatch from Grandeur Peak to Black Mountain flows into the river here, but you’d never know it by the current appearance of the space,” said Lewis Kogan, the Open Space Lands Manager of Salt Lake City.
Sean Crossland, the new chair of the Glendale Community Council, adds that “The Glendale Community Council has shown much interest and support in conservation-minded improvement projects for the Jordan River trail.” He adds that, “Three Creeks will provide a highly visible and engaging access point to the Jordan River, cut the distance from the Sorenson Center, and hopefully increase multi-use of the river.”
The Three Creeks Project will take many years to complete. This year, the Salt Lake City Council added additional funding to the project to begin construction on the basic elements of the infrastructure.
“With funding from the federal government, the SLC Council and several city agencies, a design strategy to heal, repair and transform a parking lot into a neighborhood park is near,” said Stephen Goldsmith of the Seven Canyons Trust.
Over the summer three public open houses were held to gather feedback about what the community preferences were for the confluence. Out of 102 votes, the top four responses to the question of “How Will You Use This Site?” included environmental education (18), bird watching (16), meditation/relaxing (16), and biking (12).
My name is Gilberto Rejon Jr. and I am 13 years old. I describe myself as a soccer coach and an “uncle” to many. When I was in elementary school, my dad, Gilberto Rejon Sr., started the Hartland Soccer Club to help keep kids out of gangs and in school. Now I’m in eighth grade at Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE), and I help my dad run the program.
Last spring, he got me involved with a river signage art project with the Jordan River Community Initiative because he loves the river and wants it to be looking the way it’s supposed to – beautiful. To support that, we got many of the SLCSE soccer players to join us. on the project. My dad told them to look at the project as a field trip.
The students from SLCSE and some artists got together to create some art with spray paint. We went on a river trip with them to get a kind of picture of what to paint. The goal was to get the participants to learn more about the river and share what they already knew. Many of the students had been down the river before, but not with artists. There were some funny moments going down the river, like when the artists and some students started racing and ended up crashing into a tree, and each other.
This project was important to me. I got involved for the fun of it and to help the environment. I personally want to see the river looking beautiful and we also want it to be memorable for people who come from other places to ride their bikes on the trail. This project has changed me, because I see how people can just throw trash in the river and not care. Now, sometimes my dad and I go bike riding and bring along trash bags just to try to keep the trails and river clean.
Currently we meet every third Tuesday of the month at the Sorenson Unity Center (1383 S 900 W) from 6 pm -8 pm and every third Friday at the West View office at Citifront (600 West & North Temple, Suite 300) from 9 am - 10:30 am. We invite members of the community, business owners, teachers, and anyone else who has a story to tell about the west side to join us.
The West View community newsroom needs your story
As an emerging publication we have often wondered what community means, more importantly for the West View, what community journalism means. We've found that representing voices and including stories, resources and images that are relevant to those in the area have become priority. Through this constant search we have also discovered needs, answers to community problems and motivation to keep moving forward.
In the beginning, the best way to collect stories was to reach out and pull them from the threads of partnerships, friendships and programs that stemmed from those in the neighborhoods. As the demographic changes and the numbers expand, we have found this search has caused us to miss out on great news leads, beautiful community moments and useful bulletin announcements.
And so, we've moved on to the idea of providing a consistent space where stories can find us, we call it the West View's Monthly Community Newsroom, or Community Newsroom for short. At this monthly meeting our staff provides instruction, resources and support for aspiring writers, community contributors and editorial staff. We've had the opportunity to learn from experts in community building, journalism and writing and plan to bring many more. We understand that these interactions bring us expertise and knowledge but as members of the community we too provide expertise on our neighborhoods.
Currently we meet every third Tuesday of the month at the Sorenson Unity Center from 6pm-8pm. We invite members of the community, business owners, teachers, and anyone else who has a story to tell about the west side to join us.
Now is an exciting time to advertise with West View Media. Since 2011 we’ve been informing, inspiring and engaging the residents of the West Side of Salt Lake City. With engaging print and digital content as well as new multimedia offerings, there has never been a better way to reach the West Side.
The West View is a full-color quarterly newspaper, mailed free of charge to more than 22,000 residential and business addresses in 84104 and 84116 zip code areas—home to the vibrant and diverse communities of Rose Park, Fair Park, Jordan Meadows, Westpointe, Poplar Grove, and Glendale.
The West View is deeply embedded in our community. As one of the most enduring and respected local media organizations in Salt Lake City, we offer a brand and a mission that shows your company is committed to West Side communities and supporting local journalism.
By partnering with us, you will be promoted through:
Our quarterly newspaper distribution, which includes more than 22,000 households and 2,000 additional copies at locations throughout Salt Lake City.
Our website, which receives more than 10,000 unique site visits annually.
Our social media accounts reaching more than 5,000 people annually.
Our annual report distributed online and throughout the state.
Before you review the following advertising opportunities, I want to thank you for your consideration. I would love to discuss your company’s values and marketing goals align with the opportunities we have to reach our unique community. Advertising with West View Media is good for our community, good for your business, and sustains local journalism at a crucial time.
For any questions or to get started contact:
Turner C. Bitton Executive Director West View Media e: c: (801) 564-3680
Brad lives in Rose Park with his wife and four children. He is the former chair of the Rose Park Community Council, helped organize the Rose Park Community Festival, serves on the Board of Directors for NeighborWorks Salt Lake and is a founding board member of the Utah Transit Riders Union. When Brad is not at one of his kids’ soccer games, basketball games or dance classes, he works for the State in Emergency Management.
Jason is a former journalist and freelance writer and editor. He began his writing career in Washington, D.C. covering politics on Capitol Hill, and later worked as a staff editor at Outside and Backpacker magazines. Prior to becoming a journalist, Jason worked in Boston as an economic development consultant focusing on inner-city communities through the U.S. and in Great Britain.
He and his wife Jackie moved to Salt Lake City in 2011. A year later Jason joined the Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit health reform advocacy organization, to manage the group’s public outreach, private insurance reform, social media, and communications strategies. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and a postgraduate degree in history from Scotland’s University of Edinburgh. Jason and his wife Jackie, a family physician, live in Salt Lake City along with their two sons, Calvin and Mitchell, and an energetic Australian cattle dog.
Dorothy Pappas Owen
Dorothy recently retired after working for 40 years in both state and local government. At the state level she began her career evaluating federal criminal justice grants, then served in the Governor’s Budget Office as the criminal justice analyst, where she eventually served as the Planning and Budget Analyst over the Health Department and Medicaid budgets. At the local level she served as the Associate Director for Salt Lake County Aging Services and as the Social Services Grant Coordinator where she staffed a citizen board charged with making funding recommendations to the county mayor. She worked with non-profit agencies such as The Road Home and the Utah Food Bank on ways to improve their financial stability. She also served on the Utah Tax Review Commission and more recently has served as a VITA volunteer doing taxes for west side residents. She serves as chair of the Westpointe Community Council. She and her husband Wayne have lived on Salt Lake City’s west side for over 40 years, and enjoy spending time with their two grandchildren.
James (Jim) A. Fisher, Advisor
Jim is a resident of the Guadalupe neighborhood on the west side of Salt Lake City. He has been instrumental in the development of The West View as an advisor and mentor, and taught a community journalism workshop in conjunction with SLCC Community Writing Center. A contributor to The West View from early on, he has helped with everything from advising the founders about operating structure and design elements to contributing content.
Jim has started several magazines and newspapers over the years and served as the Executive Graphics Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune. Among his many roles in the publishing industry he has worked as an editor, publisher, photographer and designer. He worked as an Associate Professor, Lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah for many years, and currently teaches journalism at Utah Valley University.
Christian Cecena is a long-time Glendale resident and a member of the LGBTQ community. His professional background includes working with the US Department of Agriculture as a litigation specialist while gaining experience in the financial industry for many years. He became involved with nonprofits in 2011, working with vulnerable populations struggling with domestic violence, homelessness, addiction and mental illness in Salt Lake City and San Diego. Christian considers himself an advocate and activist in minority, economic and cultural issues. He is working towards his Bachelors in Social Work at the University of Utah and is currently employed as the Development Manager of Volunteers of America Utah.
Charlotte Fife-Jepperson, Executive Director
Charlotte Fife-Jepperson is a fourth-generation Poplar Grove resident – one of six communities on Salt Lake City’s west side. She is the founding director of West View Media, the nonprofit community news organization that publishes The West View quarterly newspaper and website, produced almost entirely by community members. She also serves as the Managing Editor of the paper. During college, Charlotte wrote for the Daily Utah Chronicle in 1998-1999, covering music and dance for the arts section. She was the past co-chair for University Neighborhood Partners, and currently serves on the boards for the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, and the Salt Lake Chapter of Federation of Music Clubs. She also works as a piano teacher/music educator and is the proud mother of three boys.
West View Media is a non-profit news organization that informs, educates and inspires readers through publications that focus on the diverse communities in west Salt Lake City. We offer an authentic look into an area of Salt Lake City that has traditionally been undervalued and misrepresented by mainstream media and local government entities. We strive to do this not only with professional staff, but also by empowering people who live and work in west Salt Lake City to tell their own stories, in their own voice.
To increase awareness of west-side issues through local journalism that informs, engages and connects diverse communities in Salt Lake City.
Through a commitment to social justice and increasing civic participation we create a more informed, engaged and equitable community.
INCLUSION: We value diversity of thought and background and encourage respect and cross-cultural understanding.
ETHICS: We expect truth, accuracy and fairness.
NARRATIVE: We aspire to reflect the qualities and character of the west side that enhance the culture of Salt Lake City.
VOICE: We recognize that every person has a unique perspective and experience that reflects our community, and we provide platforms for disenfranchised voices to be heard.