Tracy Aviary eyes additional locations along the Jordan River Parkway
May 03, 2019 10:07AM
By Mariden Williams
One of the very many birds at Tracy Aviary's main location in Liberty Park. The aviary participates in many conservation and wildlife protection efforts. (Photo/Rob Williams)
By Mariden Williams | [email protected]
Many Utah residents think the Jordan River is for the birds, and the Riverton City Council seems to agree—as does the Tracy Aviary.
Back in September, the city council met with Tracy Aviary representatives, took a tour of the aviary and talked about the possibility of adding another aviary campus along Riverton’s section of the Jordan River Parkway.
“We’ve been working on the Jordan River Parkway for some years. Most of what we control is functioning, and it’s looking really great down there. But I think we’re ready for the next step,” said Councilmember Tish Buroker, who serves on the Jordan River Commission with Tim Brown, the director of Tracy Aviary.
“The aviary’s mission is to inspire curiosity and caring for birds and nature through education and conservation,” said Brown. “A couple years ago, we realized that being restricted to only our campus in Liberty Park hampered our ability to reach into the community. About five years ago, we started floating the idea of doing a second campus somewhere.”
Riverton isn’t the only location being scouted for a second aviary location. They’re also considering opening a campus in the South Salt Lake area, around 3300 South—intentionally close to the homeless resource center.
“We want to bring something to the parkway that’s way more positive than the negative things that will come with the homeless resource center,” said Brown. “With all due respect to law enforcement, we feel like we can’t just be reacting to problems. We need to do things that are proactive and bring positive things to the river.”
“The Jordan River Commission has really gathered steam. It was only implemented in 2010, and I think now it has a lot of support from a legislative point of view. There’s a lot of interest from all the communities that border it that are recognizing the need for open land. So, it would take some work, but I think it could be done,” Buroker said.
Brown said they envision an educational hub.
“What we foresee is a nature center that’s a home base for a lot of education programs—pre-K-type things,” Brown said. “Lots of school programs could happen there: Scout programs, adolescent education, adult education, senior education.”
Brown would also like to see the location used as a base for service projects and conservation activities. Tree plantings, tree protections, weed control, planting butterfly gardens, tracking birds, counting dragonflies and creating birdfeeders were all suggested.
Officials think they’ll keep things simple for now. They know they’d like to take advantage of the river to run some water through the campus and put in some trails. Brown said they’re considering installing a portable classroom such as one might find at any number of crowded Utah elementary schools but decked out with much more attractive sidings and furnishings, a butterfly garden, maybe an observation tower and a playground. Brown isn’t even sure whether they’ll fence in the location.
“I’ve seen a lot of nature centers function without fences,” Brow said. “A benefit of fence is that it’s contained, from a parent standpoint. It’s a little easier to walk in there and let your kids run ahead of you on the trail knowing that there’s only one exit. You could also do overnight camping with Scout groups and stuff like that if it was fenced.”
Brown is currently looking at a starting budget of about $2 million and estimates that after construction finishes, it would cost $200,000 to $250,000 annually if it was open seven days a week and fenced in. The city council would like to see a more definitive budget outlined but seemed interested in watching how things play out and keeping Riverton’s hat in the ring.
“I think it’s really neat, and it could be a place that’s really distinctive in our community—a gathering place, if you will,” Staggs said. “If you’re looking for a nod here, I think you’ve got it. I think people are saying yes.”