Envision Utah will hold an open house tonight giving the public a chance to comment on its long-term vision for the Jordan River corridor.

The draft-plan, paid for by Salt Lake County, suggests new commercial nodes in addition to restoration of dilapidated areas and transformation of agricultural land into premier open space.

The 50-mile corridor could eventually rival the mountains as a recreational amenity for the Wasatch Front, said Envision Utah Planning Director Gabe Epperson.

"I think that the river is the lifeblood of the valley," he said. "Everything runs into it. It's the main artery of all our natural amenities."

The "Blueprint Jordan River" draft study was written by Envision Utah after it collected data through an online survey, focus groups and work sessions. The "Lake-to-Lake Vision" spans 50 miles, three counties and dozens of municipalities.

The plan categorizes the river into three levels of environmental opportunity. "Bronze" areas could be improved by things such as trees and pathways, but are too developed or industrial to facilitate significant wildlife habitation, Epperson said. "Silver" areas could have pockets of open space surrounded by neighborhoods and shopping districts and "gold" sections would be of the highest environmental quality.

The best-known areas of the river are probably in the bronze category, Epperson said, adding that suburban dilapidation in the north end of Salt Lake County has reflected badly on the river as a whole. The vast majority of it is in much better shape, he said.

Envision Utah's top priority is to preserve and maintain the river while restoring it as a wildlife oasis. Its second main goal is to remove barriers that stop people from boating or jogging all the way from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake.

"People can see the pressures of a growing economy," Epperson said. "If we don't do this it's going to hurt our ability to enjoy this region."

Adding commercial areas to the riparian corridor will draw interest to the river and could facilitate in rehabilitation and funding, Epperson said. The commercial areas are expected to be on less than 10 percent of the river and are all planned for areas that are either developed now or zoned for commercial building, he added.

The final plan is expected in December, Epperson said. After that, Salt Lake County will have to get the other municipalities on board and find funding to purchase open space.

The open house will take place at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1322 W. 3100 South, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Two more open houses will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Lehi Legacy Center, 123 N. Center, and the Gale Center at 1300 Beckstead Lane in South Jordan.

Comments are also being solicited online. For more information or to participate, visit blueprint.slco.org.

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