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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Pacific Heritage Academy student Brian Villa plants a tree in the Jordan River Wildlife Grove on the school’s property in Salt Lake City Friday, Nov. 14, 2014.

Thanks to a grant, a Salt Lake school has made a place for nature on its grounds.

The Utah Division of Water Quality, Jordan River Commission, the Center for Documentary Expression and Art, and Intermountain Aquatics have announced a new three-year restoration project, the Lower Jordan Education Outreach, Riparian Enhancement, and River Clean-up Project.

An educational outreach effort, led by CDEA, involves a Jordan River focused environmental curricula (Reawakened Beauty: The Past, Present, and Future of the Jordan River), which aims to improve students’ environmental literacy, enhance their environmental stewardship and leadership, and engage them in restoration and placed-based learning activities. The curriculum involves the study of the nation’s developing environmental awareness, the study of the history of the Jordan River, on-site field studies, and photography and writing about the river. Issues and opportunities will be explored to improve the conditions of the river.

The first school engaged in this program is the Pacific Heritage Academy, a charter school located in Salt Lake City. To celebrate the completion of program's first eight-week artists/scholars-in-residence program under this grant, seventh-grade students in Hilary Ward’s class planted a Jordan River Wildlife Grove on school grounds.

Co-designed by residency ecologists Ty Harrison and Eric McCulley and Ward’s seventh-grade students, the grove will contain native trees and shrubs that are common to the Jordan River. In recent years, students at West High School and the Salt Lake Center for Science Education planted similar habitat patches alongside the Jordan River Parkway trail to restore the river’s riparian zone and increase wildlife habitat.

The Wildlife Grove on Pacific Heritage’s campus will provide students and local residents a unique observation garden to learn about native trees and plants and study the birds, insects, and mammals that are attracted to them. The grove also will remind students that these same native plant species are being placed along the Jordan River in ecological restoration projects and they and their families can participate in future efforts to restore Jordan River habitat.