Santa Clara City ArboretumThe Arboretum of Santa Clara City is an important outdoor treasure, and like the City itself has a long and valuable history. Located to the east of the City, just north of the Little League fields, the Arboretum is a unique blend of park, wetlands, and wildlife sanctuary.
The Arboretum’s unique landscape and variety of vegetation was originally the vision of Dr. Robert Shepherd, the man who hand built the Arboretum in the early 1980’s. For many years the Arboretum was enjoyed by many of the city residents. However, by 2003 the Arboretum was showing the negative impact of its choked wetlands by an abundance of non-native tamarisk.
In early April 2004, a Dixie College Community Day spearheaded enthusiasm to clean up the arboretum. More than 300 college students, faculty, and residents came together to complete the task, returning the Arboretum to it's original vision of a valuable City resource and wildlife sanctuary.
Unfortunately, in late May 2004, the Tamarisk trees caught fire. The fire quickly grew as four different fire agencies responded to the call. Sadly, once the fire was out, a large section of the arboretum had been burned.
That spring, a grant application was submitted through the Utah Quality Growth Commission to utilize LeRay McAllister funding for restoration of the arboretum. At this point, it was decided that a complete eradication of the invasive tamarisk would also be a part of the grant. During September and October 2004, BLM fire crews came in and began the cleanup, cutting down the burned tamarisk trees so the area could be cleared. A plan was developed for future arboretum construction, and enthusiasm rose once again.
In the summer of 2005, work focused on upper sections of the arboretum while waiting for the right time to begin tamarisk eradication. The cactus garden got a good clean-up and new plants were added. Meanwhile, efforts were made by eagle scout projects to work on trails throughout the arboretum.
Tamarisk removal began with professionals cutting and chipping tamarisk trees that were not in the burned area. Then BLM weed specialists would spray the stumps with a herbicide to prevent re-growth. The result was a clean area left with little regrowth coming back.
Spring 2008 brought more funding from the Utah Quality Growth Commission. This next phase of funding will continue the Arboretum restoration project, supporting the following efforts:
- Eradicating invasive weeds and restoring the natural contours to the land after tamarisk removal.
- Restoring stream banks along the natural flows in the wash.
- Planting native vegetation in the wash bottom and along stream banks.
- Establishing a water system for supportive irrigation at the onset of planting and during times of severe drought.
- Establishing a small pond for wildlife.
- Eradicating additional tamarisk.
Public Benefits from Restoration:
- Open land preserved in its natural condition within the developed city.
- Habitat for wildlife restored.
- Native vegetation tagged and presented in a natural setting for public education and enjoyment.
- Passive recreation within a natural habitat of native vegetation and diverse wildlife.
- Native plant restoration to a wash that had been consumed by invasive tamarisk.
- Restoration of stream banks after fire and flood.
- Control of residential ground water drainage to natural stream areas.
- Reduction of mosquito risk by reestablishing stream banks.
- The natural, scenic, and aesthetic qualities of the land enhanced and preserved for open space.
- Easy public access to experience and enjoy the wonders of the southwest desert’s ecosystem.
There is still a lot of work to be done to complete the Arboretum restoration. To volunteer time, equipment, or cash donations, please call Santa Clara Parks Director Brad Hays (435-673-6712 ext 221). Also visit the Volunteer Opportunities page to view the currently available opportunities for this project.