City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

December 31, 2016

December 31st

Filed under: Bonneville Drive, Elk, Gambel's Oak, People, Pleasant Valley, Sounds — canopus56 @ 8:45 pm


3:00 p.m. New Year’s Eve by the Georgian Calendar. In the morning, although Internet cameras in the mountains show that it is a bright sunny day at higher elevations, the city is overcast all day due to the thick inversion layer. This lack of natural daylight is conducive to sleeping in, and if lack of sunlight persists to inducing seasonal affect disorder.

Along Bonneville Drive leading to the canyon, many trees are frosted with rime, and this is where the thick fog was seen yesterday near sunset. Overnight, small two and four millimeter ice crystals have sublimated on some trees, and this turns them along diffuse light into silvery-white apparitions. In the first mile jogging up canyon, I see little of these rime covered trees, but beginning at mile 1.0, more of the trees are frosted. This is probably due to the Bernoulli wind-tunnel effect (Aug. 18th) caused by the high canyon walls opening into Pleasant Valley. At the opening to Pleasant Valley, all of the trees are rime covered, but the Box Elders and their catkins are particularly thickly covered. The catkins provide a high-surface area ratio to which the rime frost can adhere. Going further up canyon, where side gullies have also accelerated the air, trees also are layered this heavier frost.

As I reach picnic site 6, a father, son, and daughter, are walking out and are outfitted with rifle hunting gear. From the lack of weight in their packs, I judge that they were unsuccessful. Rounding the bend to the red bridge at mile 0.9, an anterless elk is standing the middle of the road. She is in the no hunting zone that surrounds the road. She sees me first, freezes, and then slowly walks into the leafless forest. Examining her tracks, I can follow where she entered the road, went to drink at water seep on the west side, and then sauntered away. Water seeps from the cliffs on the west side provide water without wildlife having to trudge through deep snow to reach the stream. A walking couple stops me and tells me that they just say a herd of twenty elk crossing the south ridge line at Pleasant Valley. A few elk are also grazing on the west hills next to the road, they excitedly report. Rounding the bend into Pleasant Valley, there are four elk grazing on the hillside. Like the wild turkeys (Dec. 30th), they are pawing at the snow free ground underneath the Gambel’s oaks looking for acorns. Although unseen, I can hear the flock of wild turkeys in the oaks forest.

Near milepost 1.0, an overhung ledge shelters the partially and thinly ice covered stream. The cavity between the underside of the ice and the surface of the stream create a natural amplifier, and the stream resoundingly gurgles and thuds. Weather forecasters have promised another storm tomorrow afternoon, and this should clear out the inversion layer. If it does not arrive, I will have to go higher above the haze layer in order to enjoy a much needed dose of sunshine.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 31st, 1850, he describes how blue jays warn each of other of approaching threats. On December 31st, 1851, he observes leopard [sic – probably a lynx] tracks. On December 31st, 1853, he again notes how snow reveals the tracks of many animals normally unseen. On December 31st, 1854, he notes how the shadows on snow are not grey or black, but blue.

On December 31st, 1995, the Salt Lake Tribune noted the historical event that the eagle statute on the top of Eagle Gate was modeled on an eagle actually killed in City Creek Canyon. On December 31, 1995, the Audubon Society scheduled a walk up City Creek Canyon for January 11th, 1996 (Salt Lake Tribune). On December 31, 1924, the City Waterworks Department denied a petition by the Utah Athletic Association to build a four mile long tobogganing run down City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Telegram). A Salt Lake Telegram editorial supported the proposal on the grounds that it would relieve the winter boredom of local residents (id). On December 31, 1916, the Salt Lake Tribune noted that the City Creek road had been improved that year, and the paper endorsed park proposals by a better roads civic improvement group to link and upgrade the Wasatch Boulevard scenic drive with 11th Avenue street and the City Creek road in order to create a scenic drive for the now popular automobile.


December 30, 2016

December 30th


3:00 p.m. The angle of the lowering Sun makes this a season for reflections just as winter is the season most suited for introspection. Wherever water in the stream is smooth, a clear reflection can be seen of the trees on the opposite bank. The clarity of the images varies with the degree to which the surface water is disturbed. The reflections range in appearance from a realist to impressionist to abstract painting. I catch glimpses of the silver ribbon (December 26th).

Mountain chickadees still flock at mile 1.3. At milepost 1.5, a flock of sixteen wild turkeys are grazing on the west hillside just next to the road. As the sunset line rises up the hill, they stay just above it in the sun’s warmth. In the shade beneath them, small birds that I cannot identify, flit from and hide behind tufts of bunch grass. I count perhaps five or six, but then at some unknown signal, a flock of thirty take to the air and float down canyon.

It is a clear day and the temperatures in the canyon have dropped into the teens. There are only two or three other regular walkers on the road. The inversion layer lays thick over the city, but it thins as it extends up into the canyon. Being a city-dwelling, I have become acclimated to heavy haze and smog, and I do not appreciate how dense the smog and haze is. The inversion air consists of water saturated haze from snow melting from the ground, and this mixes in with exhaust from automobiles and industry. The toxic mixture cannot escape the valley because it is a trapped underneath a layer of cold air. At Guardhouse Gate the sky is gray, but as I reach milepost 1.5, a bluer, but still white-tinged, sky appears. At the 5,000 foot level, I can see the top of the inversion layer is still another 700 feet over my head. But here, the layer’s density is much reduced, and I come here in the depths of winter for the health benefit of clearing my lungs. As I run back down canyon, as the Sun falls lower, a tipping point is reached in the atmosphere, and its saturated moisture turns to an even denser fog. As I reach Guardhouse Gate, I am coughing and clearing my lungs every quarter-mile. Even so, my daily trip to the canyon’s relatively clear air helps cope with the rest of the day in the City.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 30th, he observes a shrike. On December 30th, 1860, he describes the distribution of blueberries and their natural history throughout the year.

On December 30th, 2000, William Alder, the long-time chief meteorologist with the Salt Lake Office of the National Weather Service, retired, and he rated the floods from City Creek Canyon in 1983 as the second most significant weather event of his career (Salt Lake Tribune). On December 30th, 1991, there was a heavy inversion layer in the air and the Salt Lake Tribune featured a picture of joggers in City Creek Canyon exercising above the smog. On December 30th, 1917, retiring City Commissioner Heber M. Wells cited as a major accomplishment, the installation of the then new multi-million gallon reservoir in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). On December 30, 1900, the manager of the Red Bird Mine, on the City Creek side of the City Creek-Morgan County divide, reported having completed a 750 foot-mine tunnel (Salt Lake Tribune).

December 29, 2016

December 29th

The Great Concentrator

4:00 p.m. Thoreau called the winter snow and cold “The Great Betrayer” because wildlife, normally unseen, can be easily followed by the tracks in the snow. For me, this coldest part of winter is The Great Concentrator. Elk and mule deer collect in larger herds closer to the city. Birds condense into even larger flocks. Yesterday, I saw a flock of fifteen wild turkeys at mile 1.7, near the bend at the end of Pleasant Valley. Turkey flocks are forced closer to the road in the depth of winter. There, they scratched through the thin snow layers at the edges of Gambel’s oak groves, and fed on the acorns hidden beneath the snow. They were wary of humans, but unlike summer, they did not rush into the oak groves at the first sight or sound of people. The oak groves also provide protection from coyotes predation. At night, the turkeys form a circle deep within the oak groves, but sit in the trees one or three feet of the ground. In this defensive stance, they repel attacks by lone coyotes. In late January and February during the early mornings or late evenings, the bark of the coyote and responsive calls of the turkeys can be heard. Several other walkers and I watch the flock for about ten minutes.

As the deep cold of winter continues, European house sparrows will concentrate in a large flock at Guardhouse Gate. Mountain chickadees and Black-hooded chickadees will form even larger groups. These will be joined by flocks of Stellar Jays. But for now, only the magpies have grouped at Pleasant Valley, the Mountain chickadees have formed small groups near picnic site 3 at mile 0.3.

Today, at mile 1.7 where turkeys grazed yesterday, snow tracks reveal a rabbit crossing the road. At mile 2.3, a group of four hunters are transferring freshly killed elk meat from their backpacks to a bicycle towing a cart. The hunters are outnumbered by twenty or so walkers and runners and three bicyclists. As I run out of the canyon, the sky is a clear, cloudless blue, then grey, but below a thick inversion layer hangs over the city. With the sky having no cloud cover, tonight temperatures will fall near zero degrees Fahrenheit in the canyon.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 29th, 1851, he notes and unusually warm winter day. On December 29th, 1853, he notes the worst winter storm day in memory. On December 29th, 1858, he contrasts the speed of an ice skater with that of winter walking.

On December 29th, 2006, Salt Lake City Dept. of Public Works Deputy Director Jeff Niermeyer reported that in the spring, the department would be fixing chuckholes on City Creek Canyon road due to complaints from bicyclists (Salt Lake Tribune). On December 29th, 1934, the City reported the costs of fighting major fires in City Creek, Parley’s and Lambs’ Canyons (Salt Lake Telegram). A total of 234 acres were burned in the three canyons, mostly in City Creek. On December 29th, 1909, an airship company sought to purchase the Ensign Peak area from the City and to build a water reservoir in City Creek for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a dirigible airport on the peak (Salt Lake Telegram, Dec. 29, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 30). On December 29, 1907, the President of the Civic Improvement League suggested that City Creek Canyon is a “A neglected spot of great natural beauty is City Creek canyon [and] some uniform plan should be adopted by which this spot may be gradually improved and its natural advantages protected” (Salt Lake Herald). On December 29th, 1907, Water Superintendent Frank L. Hines reported 18 inches of snow at five miles up City Creek Canyon (at elevation 5030 feet), and this was more snow than had been seen in the previous five years (Salt Lake Herald).

December 28, 2016

December 28th

Filed under: Weather — canopus56 @ 8:07 pm

The Refrigerator

4:00 p.m. Overnight temperatures in the canyon and the City have dropped into the teens or single digits, and during the day rise only into the twenties. These temperatures typically will continue until January 10th, and I call this time “The Refrigerator”. Although the days are lengthening, seasonal weather lags behind, and so the coldest part of the year comes after winter’s solstice. Then overcast days end, and the Sun reasserts itself.

The Refrigerator has no effect on me this afternoon. The Sun is out, and my body has adapted to the cold. This adaptation occurs in steps. First, in September after the summer peaks of one-hundred degrees passes, temperatures drop into the eighties. Then sixty degrees felt cold. In October, temperatures fall into the seventies and sixties, but the occasional overnight temperatures in the forties felt cold, and temperatures in the twenties is unimaginable. In November, temperatures fall into the forties with nightimes in the thirties and twenties, but again my body adapts. In December and with the arrival of the Refrigerator and its overnight lows in the single digits, my body adapts once again. For the first three or four days, temperatures in the teens felt unnatural; I genuinely chilled. But now I am able, given sufficient layering, to walk and job in nightly 8 degree weather with little discomfort. The young people run in the canyon today wearing only single light layer, but of the bicyclists, they are driven out of the canyon except for a lone example wearing high-tech outer wear to break the wind’s chill. I do not recognize the person that I was in summer who happily jogged in one-hundred degree weather. I look forward to ascending back up this temperature staircase in the spring and summer, when again eight degrees is a distant memory and a seemingly impossible state of being.

With these cold temperatures comes the City’s inversion layer that is trapped by the prevailing easterly winds against the Wasatch Front Mountain Range. The City air is fouled.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 28th, 1853, he observes tree sparrows.

On December 28th, 1951, City Water Commissioner Grant M. Burbidge proposed a plan to the U.S. Public Health Service to improve the city’s drinking water quality, in part, by building a water filtration plant in City Creek Canyon, by adopting water chlorination, and by closing City Creek Canyon to public access (Salt Lake Telegram). On December 28th, 1909, the City entered into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Forestry Service for the joint protection of and reforestation of City Creek Canyon and Parley’s Canyon (Deseret Evening News). On December 28th, 1892, Salt Lake City Water Patrolmen J.B. O’Reilly reported that, since City Creek Canyon had been closed to hunting to preserve water quality, that deer have congregated in the canyon from surrounding canyon. The deer have sensed that they cannot be hunted there (Salt Lake Herald).

December 27th

Filed under: Box Elder Tree, Colors, Light — canopus56 @ 1:54 pm


5:30 p.m. Temperatures as twilight descends fall into the teens, as a run late up the canyon. Already, I can feel the force of the lengthening days bringing strength and hope back into my limbs. At the solstices, the rate of change of the length of the day is at it greatest – two or three minutes per day. It is overcast, and all is a tableau of gray and blue slate sky and land. In the fading light only the catkins of Box Elder trees and tufts of dried summer bunch grasses show any hint of a tan color. As I exit the hills that mark the beginning of Pleasant Valley, even more shades of gray, blue-gray, green-gray are seen. I stop counting after ten hues and shades. Near milepost 1.5, behind me, a faintest yellow glow from twilight and the lights of the City filter through a cloud over the south hill of the valley’s entrance. Then through the cloud, the angle of the twilight changes, and the snow in the valley is infused with the dimmest, almost undetectable, yellow light. This moment of magic only lasts a few seconds. The canyon is empty; I am alone here, but satisfied.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 27th, 1851, he notes a red sunset proceeds the actual winter sunset. On December 27th, 1853, he observes how fresh snow allows one to note through their snow tracks, the existence of many small and large animals that are invisible at the other times of the year. On December 27th, 1857, he finds joy in the contrast in the seasons. At a pond where he swam in the summer, he stands on ice with numbed fingers.

On December 27th, 2003, dogs at areas set aside for them in city parks have become controversial, and lower City Creek in Memory Park is a “no-leash” zone (Salt Lake Tribune). On December 27th, 1993, the Salt Lake Tribune joked that there was such a heavy inversion layer in the air a runner going down City Creek might mistake Salt Lake City for London, Great Britain. (That year, 1993, was a heavy-snow, flood year.) On December 27th, 1951, citizens’ considered a proposal to build three water filtration plants, one in City Creek Canyon, because the United States Public Health Service was threatening to prohibit the use of the City’s low-purity water at interstate railroad terminals, at bus stations, and at the airport (Salt Lake Telegram). That would effectively have closed those important facilities. On December 27th, 1903, the Salt Lake Tribune described the then existing City Creek Water system in the context of the proposed dam in Parley’s Canyon. The “high-line” went from a head gate in City Creek at 5030 feet in elevation to a reservoir in the high Avenues. The “mid-line” went from a head gate at 4712 feet to the low Avenues and Central City. A second head gate at 4676 feet went to the Capitol Hill and west-side districts. The “low-line” went from a head gate at 4579 feet to serve the business district.

December 26, 2016

December 26th

Filed under: Geology, Light, picnic site 4, Stream — canopus56 @ 9:02 pm

The Silver Ribbon

12:30 p.m. Where the road and stream turn nearly south for straight sections between picnic site 4 and picnic site 2, the Sun can align between the viewer and the stream. Between noon and 1:30 p.m., sections of the stream reflect the Sun and the stream appears as a metallic silvery strip. Compare to the Golden Ribbon (December 14th) and the Black Ribbon (December 16th).

The tracks of the elk and deer that descend to the valley and Memory Grove (Dec. 25) can be traced back along the south-west canyon wall and ridgeline all the way back to milepost 1.5, but only one female elk can be seen high on the shaded south canyon wall south and east of Pleasant Valley. Horizontal sandstone rock layers that permeate the first mile of the canyon below Pleasant Valley are emphasized by the heavy snow. Only the cliffs are brown, and these contrast with the snow drifts that covered the rest of the walls.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 26th, 1840, he wonders how fish living underneath winter ice must perceive the changing of the seasons. On December 26th, 1853 and again on December 26th 1855, he notes how a fresh heavy snow pushes and weighs down the trees. He describes a pine tree recently hit by lightening. On December 26th, 1854, he records a Christmas without snow. He observes how a squirrel has dug out the snow bound entrance to its burrow. He sees the occasional sprig of newly growing green grass in the middle of winter.

December 25th

Filed under: Elk, Ensign Peak, Mule Deer, Weather — canopus56 @ 9:00 pm

Silent Night

4:45 p.m. Last night a large storm that stretched from the Canadian border to New Mexico traveled over the canyon, and the storm left about one foot of snow. All I have time for today is a short, sunset walk in the lower canyon. The storm front has passed, but the air is so charged with cold moisture that light snow flakes continue to fall. The heavy blanket of snow muffles all sounds and except for the stream, the canyon is still. High above the city behind Ensign Peak, tracks of elk and deer can be followed descending down to the canyon below Bonneville Drive and residential areas. Oddly, although there are many tracks, I can see no elk or deer on the canyon walls. Beneath the high ridges, the yellow glow from the setting sun brings out details, including a snow drift field that looks like sand ripples on the bottom of a stream. The road has been plowed, and although the temperature on the road is now in the teens, the snow drifts emanate and even colder cold. The golden sunset playing on the ridge line is a wonderful end to the holiday.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 25th, 1852, he describes a frozen cattail. The sight of the sun reflecting off of the bottom of a stream reminds him of summer. On January 25, 1856, a collected pine cone opens are being warmed in Thoreau’s home. He marvels at the difficulty of and the ability of squirrels to remove seeds from a closed cone. On January 25, 1858, Thoreau notes the many types of buds on trees.

December 24, 2016

December 24th

Filed under: Geology — canopus56 @ 8:03 pm

Natural Bridge

External Link to Image

1:00 p.m. Today, it rained in the morning and then was overcast. It is a Friday before the Christmas weekend and the canyon is full of walking and strolling friends and family.

The red bridge is about a quarter-mile below milepost 1.0. This steel bridge protects the main water line take-off that splits a portion of the supply that climbs the hillside to Morris Reservoir above 13th Avenue. The Morris Reservoir is the primary water source for the Avenues, and historically, the aqueduct and now pipeline at the bridge was called the “Twentieth Ward takeoff”. Thirty feet up canyon from the steel crossing is a natural bridge over the City Creek stream, and it was first discovered by Euro-Americans in the late 1800’s. There are not many archived historical photographs of one of northern Utah’s natural bridges. Some can be found in the Utah Heritage Arts archives at the University of Utah, including an 1894 photograph of Ms. Margaus Glade and Ms. Winifred Laville in Victorian garments perched on the boulders during a summer outing. Another appeared in the July 26, 1903 Salt Lake Tribune. A commercial photographer, Shipley, took a photograph of the bridge during a 1920’s outing. These pictures show that the bridge is different now from when it was discovered. There used to be a large boulder on the near bank, still present, that leaned against a smaller boulder on the far bank, now gone. The two leaning boulders formed the bridge.

At some point, probably the City removed smaller block on the far bank. The removal may have been related to the construction of the Twentieth Ward takeoff gate or as a result of the 1983 severe floods. But the real cause of the change is lost to history. The broken remains of the smaller block appear to be stacked just down canyon of the bridge as a small grouping of four stones about three feet high.

But the canyon would not be denied its bridge. The stream rerouted under the larger stone, and carved another five foot tall bridge through the center of the rock. Thus, a natural bridge remains at this site.

The larger stone is not made of a sturdy material, and it consists of the eroded remains of a great north-south running mountain range, equal to the modern Rockies, that went through central Nevada about sixty million years ago. As the mountains eroded into a shallow sea that covered the canyon at that time, successive layers of an aggregate of sand, mud, and rounded stream rocks were laid down where the red bridge now stands. Van Horn and Crittenden’s 1987 geologic map describe the layers and the large stone as “Tertiary Conglomerate No. 2,” a “[c]onglomerate and sandstone and sandstone, pale-brown to medium-gray, poorly consolidated to well-cemented. . . . The conglomerate appears to be about 2.6 km thick” (id). Layers formed that compressed the rock into the horizontal sandstone layers seen on the high canyon cliff walls that frame the first mile of the canyon. Above and to the southeast of the red bridge and the natural arch is a prominent feature that I believe was called “Chimney Rock” by early miners (see Salt Lake Tribune Jan. 19, 1875). In those high walls and chimney rock on the south side near the red bridge, numerous wind scoured arches are trying to form, like those that make southern Utah famous. But unlike the Jurassic sandstone of southern Utah, these layers are too friable, and any future proto-arch will crumble.

The top of the larger boulder has also changed. The boulder tilted, and the more horizontal surface collected wind blown soil. Small trees sprouted. Although feet from the road, the top of the boulder is not visible behind spring’s foliage nor is it easily climbed. In summer’s heat, this is a favored spot for a nap or a meditative rest.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 24th, 1850, he observes a shrike that has captured, killed and is eating a small bird. On December 24th, 1853, he finds more moth or butterfly cocoons on trees. On December 24th, 1854, he observes how a winter rain storm has glazed trees with ice. On December 24th, 1859, he measures the dimensions of a large blueberry bush. By counting the rings in one bush, he estimates it to be sixty years old.

On December 24th, 1914, C. G. Patterson urged the City to not buy 200 acres of land near the State Capitol for the purpose of a public park on the grounds that adequate open space already existed in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Telegram).


Left Panel – Salt Lake Tribune 1903
Center Panel – University of Utah, Utah Heritage Archives
Right Panel – Kurt A. Fisher 2016

December 23, 2016

December 23rd

Filed under: picnic site 2, picnic site 3, picnic site 4, Sounds, Stream — canopus56 @ 7:09 pm

Stream Sounds

1:00 p.m. The canyon has warmed considerably under morning bright sunlight, but the beginnings of a large storm front arrives at noon and quickly hides the Sun. It is a Friday before the Christmas holiday weekend, and the canyon is filled with the conversations of about thirty people and the sounds of city rumble. Many are traveling to their weekend destinations, but the distant noise of their vehicles, planes and trains do not lessen the sounds from the stream.

Listening closely to stream sounds between picnic site 1 and picnic site 5, I hear that they fall into three categories. The first sound is a like gentle pouring rain, and it is produced where the stream falls over a small three to six inch uniform ledge across the stream bed. The second second is a “plonk”, and it is produced where two rocks constrict the flow from both sides of the stream. There, the stream has carved out a six inch depression at the rocks’ base, and the falling water takes air to the bottom which then escapes to the surface to make the depth throat-ed popping noise. The third sound is rare, and it is the sound of two rocks striking each other. In front of a larger rock, a small horizontal eddy has formed, and within it a smaller rock rests. The current repeatedly lifts the smaller rock and strikes it against the larger, and this creates a deep thud.

Two bow hunters are walking out the canyon. They have successfully taken an elk. Each has one butchered hind-leg in their backpack. They left the remainder of the three-hundred pound carcass rotting in this watershed canyon. More waste of living things.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 23, 1837, he notes a only one robin in his winter landscape. On December 23, 1856, he observes that on the coldest nights, the ground will crack with an audible sound, and on December 23, 1860, he observes larks during winter.

December 22, 2016

December 22nd

Filed under: Birds, Black-billed magpie, Microbes, Mountain Chickadee, Northern flicker, Robin — canopus56 @ 2:04 pm

Trophic Levels

11:00 a.m. It is cold and overcast again, but it has not rained or snowed for several days. The snow has condensed and lost two-thirds of its original volume. Between picnic sites 2 and 3, birds have congregated on flat lands near mile 0.3. A chorus of magpies, a flicker, a robin, and chickadees all call back and forth to one another. At mile 1.3, only magpie calls are heard.

Stripped of its distracting summer green and autumnal yellows, the canyon at winter rest is simplified, and its ecological layers are more easily seen. The first level consists of microscopic animals and prokaryotes above the surface, including as lichens and mosses (Dec. 6th), unseen microbes in the soil, and unseen microbes extending four kilometers below the surface (Baker 2016, Li-Hung Lin et al 2013) and within mammals and birds (Whittman 1999) represent a slightly less than the volume of biomass of visible plants above ground. In the second level, the productivity of plants dominates the visual landscape, in particular by Gambel’s oaks (August 30, August 31st). At the surface, the annual productivity is held in the layer of leaves underneath the snow, and that layer is primed with bacteria and fungi ready to turn the fallen leaves back into nutrients. In a third level, insects are probably the next most numerous and visible group in terms of size of zoomass, including gnats (August 11th, November 9th) and their predators, dragonflies (August 11th, August 29th). Finally, the small number of bird’s nests (Dec. 10th), deer (Oct. 23rd) and elk (Dec. 13th) seen in the canyon today attest to the small ratio of the mass of mammals and birds to the total mass of other living things in and beneath the canyon. That ratio may be as little as 1:1000 (Hartley 2010), but approximately 18 percent of plant biomass is consumed by animals each year (id.)

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 22nd, 1859, he observes watercress in the bottom of a stream. He notes empty chestnut burrs at the base of a tree where squirrels have collected, opened and removed the nut inside.

On December 22nd, 1883, Avenues’ homeowners held a mass meeting to oppose a plan by the newly incorporated Camp Douglas Railway Company to build a railroad from Red Butte Canyon for the purpose of hauling mined sandstone. The railroad was proposed to run along 4th Avenue, down into City Creek Canyon, and then to a railroad depot (Salt Lake Herald). At that time, the resident’s domestic water was not pumped into homes, but was drawn from public ditches that ran in front of their homes. They were concerned that the railroad would pollute their aqueduct water, endanger the foundations of their homes, be too noisy, present a traffic hazard for residents who then traveled mostly by foot, and was simply too large for the road’s width.

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