City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

April 26, 2017

April 25th

Filed under: People, Weather — canopus56 @ 8:57 am

Benefits of Nature – Part III – Mental Health Intervention and Crime Reduction

6:30 p.m. There was a great storm last night and this morning. Satellite images from yesterday showed a giant rotated storm containing a state-sized eddy of clouds and rain centered near Utah and the canyon that stretched from the Canadian border down to the Baja Gulf in Mexico. It was a night of heavy to medium rains that continued for most of today. I am always impressed and fascinated by weather events on such a grand scale; they re-enforce the immensity of the Earth and our relatively small scale. The effect of the storm is positive. It was re-wetted the soil to a few inches below the surface, and the storm will support the canyon forest’s ongoing spring leaf-in.

A disturbed person has written the words “We are all infinite” on a sticker and affixed it where it can be seen by persons walking up the road.

* * * *

Exposure to nature is also useful as a treatment to mental health issues. Attention Restoration Theory (ART), discussed above, is the theoretical underpinning of the many outdoor nature programs seen today for troubled young persons, e.g. Outward Bound. A period confined in nature restores the executive mental functions that are reduced in such youth. Roe and Aspinall found that comparing mentally health and mentally ill persons who took walks in either natural or urban settings, that mentally ill persons had a relatively higher positive response to natural settings (Roe and Aspinall 2011). City laws typically require the removal of vegetation around homes to remove hiding places for burglars and to provide visibility for law enforcement when policing neighborhoods. Conventional wisdom is that more green space provides more places for criminals to hide. Kuo at the University of Illinois and Sullivan investigated this commonplace belief in light of studies where residents report that they subjectively feel safer in more vegetated neighborhoods (Kuo and Sullivan 2001). Kuo and Sullivan, including control and analysis of many potential confounding factors, found that the degree of vegetation in a neighborhood was inversely correlated with higher personal, violent, and property crime rates (id). Safer neighborhoods have more vegetation in which criminals might hide, not less. They speculated and suggested for future research that one potential mechanism that explains these lower crimes is exposure to nature reduces levels of neighborhood aggression (id). They also suggested that heavily vegetated neighborhoods might induce more people to use their residential streets, and this puts more active “eyes on” witnesses on homes that then deters criminals.

* * * *

On April 25th, 2009, City Councilperson Eric Jorgensen in a letter to the editors of the Salt Lake Tribune, argued in favor of the City’s proposal to create fire breaks in City Creek Canyon. On April 25th, 1993, the Utah Heritage Foundation announces it is offering a tour of Ottinger Fireman’s House, a museum, at 233 North Canyon Road in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune; Salt Lake Tribune, May 10, 1993, May 15, 1993). Visits to the House have dropped off since the road to Memory Grove has been closed for the last year (id). (In 2017, Ottinger Hall is a after-school center for neighborhood students.) On April 25th, 1934, a woman was fined $5 for accidentally setting a fire in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). On April 25th, 1920, the Salt Lake Herald published an artists rendered of a proposed iron bridge that would cross City Creek at 7th Avenue. The bridge was to be part of a proposed memorial WWI war dead at what is now memorial park. On April 25th, 1915, the Salt Lake Telegram reported an overview on the use of prison labor that completed construction of a widened 7.5 miles of road suitable for automobiles up City Creek Canyon. The Telegram described the prison program in which vagrants were arrested and then put to work on the road as desirable method of removing the homeless from city streets and providing uplifting rehabilitation (id). On April 25th, 1897, Mayor Glendinning and other city officers inspected City Creek out of fear that a large avalanche had impounded stream water behind it (Salt Lake Herald). They found an avalanche 500 feet long and 80 feet deep across the stream, but the stream had eaten through the blockage (id). Councilperson Morris described two avalanches:

“[The avalanche] extends up and down the canyon for a distance of at least 500 feet, and is fully 80 feet in depth. It may have been a greater snowslide at one time, but the greater portion of it is now ice. It brought down with it great trees, tearing them up by the roots, boulders weighing almost a ton, and smaller debris and hurled them half way up the mountain on the north side. . . . At this point we abandoned our horses and proceeded up the canyon about half a mile further where another slide, larger, but very similar to the first was met. . . . Both slides came from the south side.”


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