Swaner EcoCenter will host a pond walk next week
Historically, the majority of the area stetching from the Snyderville Basin up to Old Town Park City would be wetland if it weren’t for developers, according to Swaner EcoCenter and Preserve’s Conservation Coordinator Brittany Ingalls.
"However, it was developed and what’s left are these pieces of preserved open space throughout Summit County," Ingalls said during an interview with The Park Record. "They are special and quite rare."
That’s why the Swaner EcoCenter will host a pond walk on the Swaner Preserve on Tuesday, July 7. The cost is free for EcoCenter members and $5 for nonmembers.
"Summer, being as it is in Park City, we try to capitalize on the short growing season and want to get folks out onto the Preserve to show them what wetlands are all about," Ingalls explained. "Since the Preserve is a sensitive wetlands habitat, there is no public access onto it most of the year, unless people go on tours with the Swaner staff."
Walkers will meet at the EcoCenter at 6 p.m. Once on the Preserve, they will learn about the importance of wetlands.
"[These areas] make up one percent of the total land mass in Utah and an estimated 30 percent of the areas that we once had have been lost due to development," Ingalls said. "That’s important to know because wetlands provide a myriad of benefits for humans, including the water we consume and they facilitate atmosphere and climate control."
The Swaner’s wetland includes a handful of ponds that the group will visit. One of those ponds is manmade.
"The Preserve was at one time utilized for agriculture, so the natural ponds were diverted or ditched and drained," Ingalls said. "When the crews began the restoration project of the Preserve years ago, they created this pond, which now provides habitat for many migrating shore birds, as well as an array of amphibians, including the Columbian spotted frog.
"That’s a Utah-listed sensitive species, so we’re working with the Division of Wildlife Resources to reintroduce the frog to the Preserve," she said. "The Preserve is the prefect habitat for the frog."
Those interested in taking the pond walk should register by visiting http://www.swanerecocenter.org .
"We can only allocate for so many people at a time," Ingalls said. "So, I would suggest they register as soon as possible."
In addition, participants should come to the pond walk prepared to hike.
"There is no trail and the terrain tends to be uneven and wet," Ingalls said. "So, wear shoes suitable for hiking that can get wet.
Bug spray, sunscreen and water are also suggested.
"I would also advise people to bring binoculars, because we will talk about the local bird species and maybe get to see some," she said.
Ingalls enjoys these pond walks because they give the EcoCenter staff a chance to talk about wetlands benefits and engage the public with "hands-on opportunity to see the Preserve up-close and personal."
"We also like to show how the Preserve has rebounded from when it was used as a place to host Boy Scout Jamborees and balloon festivals," she said. "It’s fun to hear people remember the area and how it used to be a dry and dusty field, and to see how it has been given the chance to return to its natural state."
The Swaner EcoCenter will host a wetland pond walk on the Swaner Preserve on Tuesday, July 7, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The cost is $5 for nonmembers and free for members. For more information and to register, visit http://www.swanerecocenter.org.