ST. GEORGE – Supporters gathered at Outlier Labs Friday to officially launch an online crowd funding effort benefiting a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving “The Boilers” pond and Millcreek Canyon.
The Boilers, also known as Warm Springs, is a 5-to-6-feet deep artesian-fed pond that receives 30,000 gallons of fresh water an hour, said Nicole Warner, of the Boiling Springs Ecoseum & Desert Preserve. The BSEDP is the group seeking to rejuvenate the Boilers and restore public access to the site by creating an ecological conservatory complex around it.
The Boilers sits right next to Interstate 15 near Main Street in Washington City. About a half-mile south of the Boilers is Millcreek Canyon.
“Our slogan in Washington City is ‘Where Dixie Begins,’” Warner said, “and do you know why Dixie began here?”
It was because Washington City is where the water is. The Boilers provided Mormon settlers with water, Warner said, while water from Millcreek was used at the cotton mill.
For many years, the Boilers was also considered a place to cool off during blistering hot summers.
“We used to swim there when I was a kid,” Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner said. “We’d go there all the time.”
The Boilers was fenced off to the public in 1999 after being declared a potential liability and biohazard by city government. Nearby Millcreek Canyon has been vandalized in places by graffiti, and both areas have become known as gathering places for activities involving drugs and alcohol.
“It’s become a place for hoodlums and people to cause problems,” said Bill Hudson, a former Washington City Councilman and current member of the BSEDP’s volunteer steering committee. “It’s very sad the way they are now.”
Despite their current state of disrepair, Hudson said he sees great potential in the Boilers and Millcreek project and what it could do for downtown Washington City.
“I live very close to this area and I can see the direction the downtown area is going,” Hudson said. “This kind of project could revitalize and change that area in such a positive way.”
After touring public gardens and similar facilities across the country, Warner said she and others connected to the ecoseum project learned such places can be game-changers in their communities. She said they provide a catalyst for the beautification and rejuvenation of communities and become economic drivers, as well.
Proposed BSEDP facilities to be built around the Boilers would include a park and trail system that would connect into Millcreek Canyon. Additional proposed facilities would include various ecological exhibits, a restaurant featuring foods grown in the Ecoseum, and a potential conference center. The Ecoseum is also slated to employ the latest in green technologies and applications in its construction and use. Public access to the Boilers would additionally be restored and preserved.
“I can see this being a Tuacahn – this could be a destination,” Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said. “I think it’s a wonderful project. There’s nothing like this in Utah that I am aware of.”
Neilson called the proposed layout of the ecoseum “very family friendly” and also touted the potential economic benefit to the region as another travel destination to be added to the map.
“It’s an outstanding benefit,” Neilson said, “not only for Washington City but also Washington County.”
“It’s going to be in our backyard,” area resident Diane Walker said.
Walker said she is looking forward to the creation of the ecoseum as a place where people can seek respite and rejuvenation and connect with nature without having to travel to places like Zion National Park or the Grand Canyon. She also said she sees it as a place where people with disabilities can enjoy nature.
There are recreation areas that are inaccessible to those with disabilities, Walker said. Being a mother of special needs children, she said having a place where they could enjoy nature’s wonders would be a great benefit to the whole family.
“Sometimes people need a healing garden,” she said.
“There is still a spirit of peace, of quiet, of respite (there), and we just want to create an oasis in this urban environment,” Warner said of the Boilers.
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