GCS 2013 Student Project: Red Butte Creek

Global Changes and Society 2013

GCS_2013_class_photo_web

L-R back row: Zachariah Levin, Kenneth Dudley, David Proffitt, Jeffrey Ross, Christy Mancuso, Becky Terry, Crystal Tulley-Cordova. Front row: Pratibha Sapkota, Kimi Smith, Jacob Hansen, David Wheatley, Brenda Bowen. Not pictured: Derek Mallia

During the spring 2012 semester, graduate students in the Global Changes and Society (GCS) project-based course raised the possibility of incorporating Red Butte Creek into campus life, student education, and global research on urban streams. The following year, no fewer than 75 students and professors use the creek as a case study on social-ecological systems, and as a real opportunity to conduct field research.

Problem: 

Red Butte Creek has multiple stakeholders. Red Butte Garden actively engages with the creek.  Several municipal (e.g., Salt Lake City and County) and private entities (e.g., Miller Park residents) have teams of people dedicated to managing stretches of Red Butte Creek.  However, each of these efforts are disconnected and in some cases present conflicting visions for the disparate segments of the creek.

Goal:

We seek to create a community that unifies those with interests in Red Butte Creek in order to further the mission of sustainable stewardship.

Driving question:

How can we create a unified community and vision that will best present Red Butte Creek to the university and integrate it into the community as a natural resource for academic enrichment, research endeavors, and human connection to the surrounding environment?

Project:

Through creation of the “Friends of Red Butte Creek” (FoRBC) group we are opening up pathways to action that can transform Red Butte Creek from a neglected corner of campus into a living laboratory that facilitates scholarship and exploration of human-natural systems and promotes the university’s mission to disseminate knowledge to the wider community.  Friends of Red Butte Creek aims to honor the legacy of Red Butte Creek by:

  • educating students, residents, and visitors about its stream ecology
  • conducting interdisciplinary research
  • creating an informational web portal
  • implementing conservation projects
  • promoting responsible outdoor recreation
  • improving signage in the riparian area
  • establishing initiatives to highlight the significance and value of a unique ecosystem as a campus and community resource

We seek to create a community that unifies those with interests in the creek to further the mission of sustainable stewardship.

Accomplishments:

  • Funded Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) project: “Friends of Red Butte Creek: Re-imagining a campus lifeline”; led to official establishment of FoRBC ASUU student group
  • Educated community members – residents, students, and visitors to RBC- hosted successful event to bring together interested stakeholders (May 1, 2013)- co-hosted by Red Butte Garden including speech by Mayor Ralph Becker, ~20 student research posters, community engagement
  • Promoted development of a Riparian Corridor Steering Committee (UU)
  • Created a website highlighting activities and sharing resources between stakeholders and building on GIS database and AP archive
  • Created creek-related K-12 lesson plans (hosted on webpage)
  • Drafted sustainable “best practices” for leases of Research Park
  • Conducted UU-wide survey and interviews with Deans about RBC perceptions.

gcs2013_forbc_kickoff