(KCPW News) Environmentalists trying to stop a proposed Salt Lake City sports complex claim it conflicts with the Blueprint Jordan River document, adopted by the city council earlier this year. But Salt Lake City open space manager Emy Storheim disagrees. She says the sports complex will actually enable the city to reach some of the conservation goals outlined in the document.
“Because of this amazing nexus of this sports complex and the river, we’ll be able to repair and restore a significant amount of this riparian corridor that otherwise we’d have a very hard time pulling money together to do that,” Storheim says.
She says plans for the sports complex include a river buffer zone that meets or exceeds the recommendations in the Blueprint Jordan River plan. This zone will be replanted with native trees and underbrush.
Altogether, Storheim says the 180-acre complex will include about 23 acres of contiguous restored wildlife and river habitat. Because it’s largely soccer fields, she says the complex comprises about 85 percent vegetation. Storheim says this will have much less of an impact than other types of development.
“The reality is, we live in an urban context and I think we seek to be stewards of this environment and provide amenities for community,” Storheim says. “I mean we’ve got to strike a balance here. And so what the city has done is it has used the guiding principles of the Blueprint Jordan River document to inform this project.”
However, environmentalists want to see the city restore the entire property to its original natural state and preserve it as open space, as recommended in the Blueprint Jordan River plan.