New interim chief named at Swaner | ParkRecord.com

New interim chief named at Swaner

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The naming of Colleen Rush to replace Tina Quayle as interim chief of the Swaner Nature Preserve is one of many important changes made recently by the organization, preserve co-founder Sumner Swaner said Thursday.

Quayle insists her leaving the organization was "amicable."

"I did resign," she said during a telephone interview Wednesday. "It was definitely time to move on. I have some possibilities out there that look really good at the moment."

Quayle was hired as executive director of the Swaner Nature Preserve in 2004 after leaving a position at Vital Ground, a group that advocates for preservation of grizzly bear habitat in North America.

Quayle excelled at helping acquire land for the preserve but the focus of the Swaner board of directors is shifting toward management of the natural resources, Swaner said.

"We’ve had our focus on assembling these pieces of property," he said, adding, "now we’re in the business of taking the very best care of it that we possibly can."

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According to Rush, "they’ve asked me to come in and help define this transition."

She expects to serve as the preserve’s interim executive director for at least six months.

Situated near Kimball Junction at the edge of residential and commercial sprawl, the Swaner Nature Preserve consists of roughly 1,200 acres of land on both sides of Interstate 80, Swaner said.

Groundwater that flows into the preserve from Park City is discharged in the area creating one of "God’s biggest springs," Swaner said, adding that much of the property was donated by developers in the Snyderville Basin.

"One hundred percent of the preserve’s property is covered by conservation easements," Swaner said during a telephone interview. "It’s in perpetuity. We have eradicated any kind of development rights."

Construction of a visitor center is slated for completion at the preserve in 2008, along with a roughly 4,300-foot boardwalk to view wildlife in the area.

"We still want to have a lot of public access," Swaner said.

Many species of migratory birds inhabit the preserve, as do moose living along the banks of East Canyon Creek east of Jeremy Ranch.

"We know we’ve lost about 23 species of neo-tropical birds that normally would be migrating into this area," Swaner said, adding that the water shrew is one of the area’s most fascinating animals. "This creature never lives farther than 36 inches away from a perennial water source, it’s entire life."

Biologists, however, haven’t been successful reintroducing the Columbia spotted frog into the area, he said.

"We’ve got sandhill cranes that have eggs in the nest right now, and we’ve got a least one fox den and we’ve got beaver busy damming," said Rush, who has a master’s degree in environmental studies from Yale University.

But survival of the animals in a suburban environment requires "social ecology," said Rush, a 12-year resident of western Summit County.

"The preserve is a part of a greater ecosystem that incorporates a myriad of human activity and development," Rush said. "I need to evaluate and understand the way our community uses and enjoys the preserve."

The Swaner visitor center, planned for construction on roughly a half acre, will be a "crowning jewel," she added.

"It’s going to make this preserve a major destination," Rush said.

She encourages residents to attend the organization’s western-themed fundraiser on Sept. 23. Contact the Swaner Nature Preserve at 649-1767 or visit http://www.swanernature.org for more information.

"People drive by Swaner Nature Preserve every day and they appreciate it for its aesthetic value as open space," Rush said. "This preserve is designed to serve the community and it’s not just to serve it in terms of providing open space."