LAVERKIN – A little more than two dozen volunteers stepped up Tuesday night to help in a service cleanup project at Confluence Park.
The activity was part of the Washington County Commission’s “Give Your Land a Hand” campaign launched in 2016 to raise awareness and participation in keeping the public lands free from garbage.
The campaign, spearheaded by Commissioner Victor Iverson, has been active for about a year, Sarah Thomas, administrative assistant with the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, said. Tuesday’s activity was the second of its kind this year with the first one in May just West of Bloomington Hills.
“Our goal for these projects are to get different user groups throughout the community to come together for a cleanup project,” Thomas said. “We’re really hoping to get a lot of different user groups together – like jeepers, four-wheelers, sportsman, hopefully equestrian people – all different kinds of people who use the land and to bring them all together to hopefully work to take care of our public lands.”
The “Give Your Land a Hand” committee meets monthly to determine a quarterly cleanup project for Washington County. Confluence Park in LaVerkin was chosen this time by the committee when they became aware of several other service activities at the site.
“Part of our (Red Cliffs Desert Reserve) is Confluence Park and over the last few months we’ve just seen some little projects here and there, some cleanup events, just some work that needed to be done and none of it was really complicated,” Mike Schijf, biologist with the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, said. “So, we saw a great opportunity for a service project to get folks involved to come in and clean up the Park a little bit. This is already such a beautiful place it just made sense for us to do our service project here.”
The activity brought out several youth groups from the LaVerkin Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comprising residents living in Springdale, Rockville, Virgin and LaVerkin.
The young volunteers along with their leaders were busy for more than two hours picking up everything from old water lines, fencing materials, broken tree branches and other trash items left behind in the 344-acre nature park.
“We thought it would be a good opportunity for the young men and women from the different areas to get together so they could meet each other and do a service project,” Glenn Leavitt, LDS young men’s president, said. “It’s hard work but I think they’re having fun.”
Besides the youth groups there were also many other residents from the surrounding areas who came out to help, Schijf said.
Both Schijf and Thomas said they had not expected so many people to come out but were “pleasantly surprised” with the turnout.
“We’re just really really grateful for the turnout today,” Schijf said.
About Confluence Park
The Park, touted for its natural beauty and historical significance, opened in 2013. Since then, it has been a popular spot for hikers, walkers, bicyclists and photographers. Recreational activities inside the park also include equestrian use. However, there are no motorized vehicles allowed beyond the LaVerkin Creek Trailhead.
The park marks the point where the Ash and LaVerkin creeks meet the Virgin River and provides access into parts of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
The area was a natural location for early human inhabitants. The Anasazi are said to have once lived there, followed by the Southern Paiutes.
The Dominquez and Escalante Expedition crossed through the corridor in 1776. Escalante wrote in his journal about the terrain of the area where he said they found small fields of corn alongside the streams.
Pioneers used the area for farming and raising livestock.
Through the next 100 years, the confluence canyons hosted a rudimentary power plant, a pecan orchard, a dairy farm and a wood structure that held turkey feed.
Geologically, the Park is impressive with its lava formations and diverse plants and wildlife. Deer, foxes, raptors, porcupines, beavers, falcons, rattlesnakes, raccoons and endangered fish all live between the canyon walls and swim in the waters.
The land was purchased in the mid-1990s by private individuals, agencies and other organizations for preservation. It now rests with Washington County and is under conservation easements held by the Division of Wildlife Resources. The endangered fish and the riparian corridor are heavily monitored.
The Bureau of Land Management and Republic Services both partnered with Washington County to help in coordinating Tuesday’s activity. Republic Services donated a 30-yard roll-off container for the garbage, trash removal and the disposal fee at the landfill.
Confluence Park is host to four trailheads, named the Hurricane, SR-9, Center Street and LaVerkin trailheads.
- Hurricane Trailhead
From Main Street in Hurricane, travel north until the road ends. At this point you will see a faint trail that leads down to the river below.
- SR-9 Trailhead
SR-9 has a large bridge which crosses the river. Just north of this bridge is a pullout to the west. At this pullout, you will see a trail that winds its way down to the river below. This trail follows the river to the old power station then continues to eventually connect with the LaVerkin Trailhead.
- Center Street Trailhead
From State Street in LaVerkin turn west on Center Street. At the end of the road there will be a trail, which leads down into Confluence Park.
- LaVerkin Trailhead
From State Street in LaVerkin turn west on 900 North into a subdivision called Riverwoods. The paved road turns into a dirt road. Follow this dirt road to the Confluence Park parking lot found on your left (south).
For More Information see the Give Your Land a Hand website.
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