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Bill would establish Jordan River Recreation Area

SALT LAKE CITY — A $1 million proposal would establish the Jordan River Recreation Area, specifically targeting 2100 South to 4430 South for improvements such as lighting, boat ramps and cutting down overgrown weeds.

The legislative measure sponsored by Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, represents lawmakers' continuing commitment to help communities absorb the impacts of new homeless resource centers planned for construction in the area, Winder said.

The bill, which excludes Murray at city officials' request, would nevertheless extend beefed-up law enforcement along the river's corridor as it meanders through Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties.

The funds would be administered by the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands in collaboration with the Jordan River Commission.

Division Director Brian Cottam said the Jordan River has improved vastly over the years, but there are continuing challenges that include elimination of invasive weeds.

"The Jordan River is a really special place. It is a gem in this valley," he said.

Winder said the urban waterway has become a magnet for the illicit drug trade, prostitution and homeless encampments — especially with pressure brought on by Operation Rio Grande. That effort has combined multiple agencies to clean up the downtown Pioneer Park area, slated the Road Home shelter for closure and is accompanied by greater police presence and new tools to help addicts kick their problem.

Jon Cox with Rocky Mountain Power said the utility owns property along the corridor, which has experienced an uptick in transient camps.

"We're very, very supportive of these efforts," Cox said.

HB216 includes $500,000 in one-time money and another $500,000 in ongoing funds.

Soren Simonsen, executive director of the Jordan River Commission, said the money will help enhance the safety, security and visitor experience along the river.