The first section of a trail for hiking, biking and nature walks along the Jordan River Parkway is ready for public use.
About 25 to 30 volunteers, including members of the Salt Lake Regional Trails Council, Salt Lake County Jail trusties, commissioners and other county officials, a Utah Transit Authority employee and others, joined Saturday in a cleanup project along a mile-long section of the trail.Signs identifying the trail as part of the parkway also were placed.
The trail in that area meanders along a beautiful, peaceful section of property between about 29th South near 11th West and south to 33rd South and about 12th West at the county's James Madison Oxbow Park.
That park is just south of the site for the proposed Salt Lake County minimum-security jail, for which a bond election is scheduled May 23. Cottonwood trees and other natural vegetation blanket the area along the Jordan River.
"We have already groomed the trail but are now doing final cleanup in clearing litter and prepping another area under the bridge at 33rd South to connect" with the trail that runs south of 33rd, said Becky Chase, North Ogden, chairwoman of the council's trails subcommittee.
"This is the first section of the trail that has opened because of the efforts of the Salt Lake Regional Trails Council," said Chase, who was joined in the project by her husband, Tom. The volunteers used shovels, rakes and other equipment and gathered paper, metal and other debris along the trail.
"I'm glad to do stuff like this. Things in nature tend to become disorganized. It takes energy to . . . reverse the disorder, to clean it up," said Mr. Chase, a civil engineer at Jetway Systems.
Bard Ferrin, trails council vice president, said this is the first section of the trail that the council has received permission to develop. It will be the main north-south link of a countywide trail system, he said.
"We hope it is the first of a continual series of trails in the Salt Lake Valley," said Ferrin, who cited the need for more trails that can be enjoyed by bikers, walkers, runners and horse lovers.
"With trails, you don't need much money, just permission to use the property. Thus far, it is an easy concept to sell. Most of the banks along the Jordan River have been dredged. There is an existing dike, which we want to use for a trail system," Ferrin said.
Salt Lake County Commission Chairman Mike Stewart, who joined Commissioner Bart Barker in the cleanup project, said he hopes the trail will be developed all along the parkway. The jail site is located on 41 acres of county-owned property, which would include a park itself.
Jeff Larsen, 34, Provo, one of four inmate trusties in the cleanup, said he enjoyed getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. The project was voluntary for the inmates but does help to reduce time on their jail sentence. Cpl. Mel Ballard and Lt. Dan Ipson of the jail staff were on hand to supervise.
"We don't have to come (out here), but we wanted to. It makes the time go a little faster. We get something done, get some exercise and we're doing something worthwhile. We're not just sitting in jail wasting taxpayers' money . . . ," Larsen said.