SALT LAKE CITY — On a soggy Saturday morning, 30 hardy people took to bicycles, jogging and boating the Jordan River to raise money to bring sunlight to a section of City Creek that flows underground.
The Range 2 River Relay is a third-year fundraising effort by Seven Canyons Trust aiming to promote awareness, appreciation and action for the valley's seven creeks, as well as celebrate to their contribution to quality of life.
The trust's current focus is the City Creek & Folsom Trail Project, where a buried City Creek follows the Folsom rail spur and cuts through neighborhoods in the 900 West and 1000 West areas between South Temple and 100 South.
The hope is to raise the creek along a 2-mile section to accompany a paved trail for bikers, walkers and runners.
The Salt Lake City Council has dedicated $350,000 for trail construction and to study the feasibility of "daylighting" the creek.
Brian Tonetti, the trust's founder and executive director, said the valley's creeks and waterways need to be appreciated and enjoyed where possible, not buried and hidden.
"Our purpose is to uncover and restore these buried and imperiled waterways," Tonetti said.
This year's relay brought out 10 teams of three members, including Powered by Pizza, whose trio of women graciously accepted their last place showing.
Stephanie Owen flipped her canoe in the Jordan River, attributing the chilly mishap to poor technique.
"YouTube videos are not adequate if you don't know what you are doing," she said, with a straight face. "When I knew we wouldn't win, I started picking up trash. It was a game to see how much I could collect, and it actually improved my technique."
Her teammate, Beth Yetter, had a less dramatic experience on her bicycle.
"It was chill. Nothing exciting."
Erin Mounce ran 3.4 miles for her portion of the relay. She knows Tonetti as a former co-worker and added, "I love the Jordan River."
The Seven Canyons is involved in multiple daylighting projects.
One such project involving Red Butte, Emigration and Parleys creeks aims to expose 200 feet near their confluence with the Jordan River at 900 West and 1300 South.
Right now, the creeks are piped below 1300 South before they end at the Jordan River.
The trust and Salt Lake City Department of Parks and Public Lands won a $1.2 million grant for the project.
Concerns over flooding, contamination from livestock, people and everyday life led city leaders to take the streams below ground at the turn of the 20th century.
In a daylighting project, those same concerns can resurface, but Tonetti said modern tools of technology, emphasis on water quality management and a better understanding of controlling for floods often make those worries subside.
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