SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah group is hoping to raise money to preserve 5 acres of land in Emigration Canyon as a bird and wildlife habitat, but it has to raise $700,000 by Nov. 7.
As of Thursday afternoon, Utah Open Lands had raised $43,000, and had received an offer for a matching grant worth up to $20,000 for the land the group has dubbed “Owl Meadow,” which is adjacent to more than 260 acres of property the organization has already preserved.
“It’s really a piece of property that is for the birds in the best kind of way,” said Wendy Fisher, Utah Open Lands' executive director.
Fisher said great horned owls, saw-whet owls and Cooper’s hawks are among the birds of prey that hunt and forage in the area.
“This 5-acre piece is small, but it’s kind of that last pearl in the string of open spaces that are really critical in the canyon,” she said.
The group has also asked the Salt Lake County Open Space Committee to supply $250,000 for the acquisition, Fisher said. A decision from the body is expected Oct. 12, and then potentially from the Salt Lake County Council later in the month.
On Wednesday night, Fisher made her pitch to neighbors during a fundraiser and open house at a private home in Emigration Canyon.
“We believe inch by inch, dollar by dollar, acre by acre we can actually preserve this,” Fisher told those who attended.
Neighbors at the open house seemed motivated to contribute.
“It would be a real shame to lose this to yet another house,” Heather Ross said.
Eric McGill with Earthwings.org said “every square inch” of habitat and open space that can be preserved is important — particularly with the type of habitat found at Owl Meadow.
Fisher said it would require a strong grass-roots movement by the people who live in the canyon to come up with the money in time.
“Every day we lose habitat, every day we lose the foraging capabilities for these raptor species, and every day we lose that sense of place that contributes so much to the quality here in the state of Utah,” she said. “It’s a critical piece to protect.”