Local representatives and residents of Helper City gathered at the Civic Auditorium on Thursday evening where they met with Brandon Stocksdale, Community Planner for the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conversation Assistance Program, to receive an update on the River Restoration Project and give input on the upcoming phases to be completed.
The meeting began with Mayor Lenise Peterman thanking all for being in attendance and giving the floor to Stocksdale, who explained that he travels throughout the state to assist in projects and programs that aim to further improve the area. He began his presentation of the restoration project by explaining that the fourth phase of the project will hopefully kick-off in the spring or summer.
Project leaders have been hard at work submitting grants for funding and activities. Stocksdale stated one of the main purposes of the evening was to give the community an update to where they are and where things are heading. Stocksdale then explained that some of the main goals of the project are to remove barriers and obstacles to create a more natural flow and make the river accessible for the residents as well as remove invasive species, such as Russian Olive trees.
The pilot phase of the project was completed in the fall of 2014 with the second phase following in the spring of 2016. Just recently, phase three was completed in the winter of 2018. Stocksdale stated that while he travels all over the state doing this work, Helper is a unique area for him in that he witnesses often how involved everyone in the community is to better the area.
“I tell everybody about Helper,” Stocksdale stated.
Stocksdale then presented the project conditions for phase four of the project. Some of the improvements predicted for this phase are in-channel enhancements, defined low-flow thalweg (the bottom of a channel of the river), habitat boulders, cobble bars and cross vanes. Stocksdale also presented a rendering of phase four and all that they wish to accomplish. He explained that they would like to incorporate existing elements on the trail and see if there are new amenities to include.
Stocksdale showed that they are focusing on key landmarks on the trail such as the beach, playground, swinging bridge and the like. At the end of the meeting, Stocksdale opened the floor for questions and encouraged those in attendance to fill out a questionnaire that asked questions about the trail such as safety improvements, hazards, why some may not use the trail and more.
Six questions in total were asked of the community members in attendance. Those involved in the project will take those answers and utilize them as possible as the restoration project continues.