"People who live near the river realize what a great asset it is, but people who don't might not," said Laura Hanson, executive director of the Jordan River Commission. "It's a great opportunity to encourage people to participate in its preservation and restoration."
The commission is overseeing the "Get Into the River" festival and ongoing efforts to protect the Jordan River corridor. Created in 2010 to carry out projects identified in the Blueprint Jordan River study, the commission includes representatives of 10 cities, three counties, the Utah Transit Authority and the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.
"There will be little community fairs up and down the river," Hanson said of Saturday's celebrations at eight locations. Rowing demonstrations and canoe trips are planned at the fairs in Jordan Park and Northwest Recreation Center, she added, while other recreation-oriented visitors may try bicycle rides on the parkway's trails.
Education is also a program goal, particularly in Thursday's cleanup effort for the corporate employees, who will be removing trash and invasive weeds, painting over graffiti, planting new native seeds and shrubs and erecting fences around existing trees to protect them from being munched by beavers and deer.
"We want people to understand why what they're doing is important," Hanson said, noting the river and lakes on either end are critical feeding grounds for migratory birds, coming just before or after they cross the arid lands of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
"By removing invasive weeds, we provide more opportunities for native plants to grow that provide habitat for these birds," she added. "It's an important piece in that migration."
Two bridge dedications also are planned.
On Thursday, the "last bridge" over the river at about 8200 S. 800 West will be dedicated with commission members, Rotarians, sponsors and officials from Midvale, West Jordan and Salt Lake County expected to be present.
On Saturday, the scene shifts north to 3300 South for the dedication of a "Pioneer Crossing" bridge at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City. The suspension bridge marks the location where Mormon pioneers first crossed the river to settle the Salt Lake Valley's west side.
Get Into the River
A festival on Saturday highlighting the Jordan River's assets will feature events at eight sites:
Legacy Nature Preserve, 1700 N. Redwood Road, Davis County
Northwest Recreation Center, 1255 Clark Ave. (300 North), Salt Lake City
Jordan Park, 1060 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City
General Holm Park, 1050 W. Carlisle Park Lane (3800 South), South Salt Lake
Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South, West Valley City
Millrace Park, 1150 W. 5400 South, Taylorsville
Jordan River Parkway Trail, 850 W. 9000 South, West Jordan
Galena/Soo'nkahni Preserve, 12300 S. to 14600 South about 1000 West, Draper