ST. GEORGE — A grassroots effort is forming to bring back to life a little known local park which over time has fallen into disrepair.
Leading the rallying cry to save Temple Springs Nature Park is St. George Police Lt. Ivor Fuller.
“There are a couple of reasons why this is important,” Fuller said. “Obviously, it has a lot of historical value when it comes to how this area was settled. It is called Temple Springs because of the springs that supplied water to the temple grounds and the downtown area for years and years.”
Water from the city-owned park has a role in its irrigation needs, Fuller added.
“The second reason this area is important is a large number of indigenous plants which are always green from the springs,” Fuller said. “There are a lot of places in there that are hidden that could really be an attraction and benefit to the community.”
The park is located between 700 East and approximately 850 East, just north off of St. George Boulevard, where the park travels up the hillside before connecting with the Red Hills Parkway bike path.
Local historian Doug Alder said the location and its springs would have been a significant resource for the early settlers of Southern Utah sent by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ second president Brigham Young.
“Yes, there is a great big spring at this location,” Alder said. “And yes, the early Mormon settlers did develop the area … that also helped (the founding of) the temple.”
In 1854, the church established an Indian mission in Santa Clara, two miles northwest of present-day St. George, where the settlement drew its water resources from the Santa Clara River and its tributaries that fed into it from Pine Valley.
Three years later, the church set up experimental cotton farms in the St. George Valley. By October 1861, more than 300 families called the valley home.
As it is today, water is the linchpin to growth.
“The availability to springs would have been very important,” Alder said. “When the early settlers arrived, a small group of about 15 men, in their 20s, hiked all over Utah looking for water. When they found a spring or a stream … Brigham Young would send out a (larger) group of people to build a village at the locations.”
According to Alder, the water reconnaissance resulted in the founding of 50 villages throughout the state including some in Southern Utah.
Without available water, it would have been very challenging to develop Southern Utah, Alder added.
Although Temple Springs has “significant historical value” and should be “cherished,” Fuller said the park has become forgotten and now is now a breeding ground for some of the most unsavory activities found in the city.
“The nature path needs work and we need to add convenient locations to make it easier to access and get people in there for legitimate uses rather than some of the criminal purposes that we’ve seen it used for during the past several years,” Fuller added.
It’s not uncommon for the park to attract drug addicts, homeless, illegal public consumption of alcohol, littering, and has been used as a place to relieve bodily functions.
“Things happen there that are inappropriate, disgusting and clearly something that should not be happening on city property,” Fuller said. “Now, it really detracts from the rest of the community … and I don’t want to lose it especially to criminal activity.”
A 20-year police veteran, Fuller has experienced the park deteriorating over the years becoming an “eyesore.”
Once on the mend, the park can be a “beautiful” reflective place for meditation along with offering hikers and people on bicycles a safe connection corridor that links Red Hills Parkway with 700 East, Fuller said.
Rehabilitation is currently underway through a cadre of volunteers.
“The purpose will be to get the community to use it,” Fuller said. “It is a hidden gem that can be a really amazing place. We just need to focus our attention in the right way to bring it back to life.”
To this end, a committee has been formed with community members and city leadership in the mix.
Not having a crystal ball but in a perfect world, Fuller anticipates flipping Temple Springs Nature Park from trash to treasure in about one year.
“I am hopeful by this time next year that we’ve made significant progress on improvements that will allow the entire community to enjoy the park,” he added. “But, it will not end there. We will continue to work on it and improve the park for future use.”
Volunteers who can offer other resources are welcomed. For more information, call Fuller at 435-627-4320 or email at [email protected]
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