The mission of the Santa Clara River Reserve is to preserve the cultural heritage, open space, recreational opportunities, and resource values of the Santa Clara River Reserve for our communities through a Recreation and Open Space Management Plan that provides for resource protection, interpretive education, traditional use, and planned recreation.
Our goal is to foster a sense of place that balances the need for resource protection with the need for recreational opportunities that offer a range of experience outcomes. The Plan will identify educational opportunities that inform the public about sensitive resources and cultural heritage, and be responsive to changing community needs through adaptive management strategies.
- To View the BLM website for the River Reserve, click the link:
The lower reach of the Santa Clara River has been used and modified by humans for thousands of years. Evidence of different cultures is found throughout the reserve in the form of habitation sites, special activity areas, and rock art localities.
Early indigenous people (labeled by archeologists as Ancestral Puebloans or Virgin Anasazi) became corn and bean farmers who irrigated their crops by diverting water from streams like the Santa Clara River. They constructed permanent village sites and produced fine quality ceramics, leaving abundant and tangible evidence of their presence on Land Hill, along the riparian corridor, and elsewhere in the reserve.
Later, the only indigenous people who permanently occupied the region were the Southern Paiute. At springs and along the stream channels, they, too, practiced small-scale farming. Hunting and gathering of native plants were also important in the economic adaptations of the early Southern Paiute. The Shivwits Band of Southern Paiute continue to make the banks of the Santa Clara their homeland. A presidential Executive Order, dated April 21, 1916, set aside land along the Santa Clara River as a reservation for the Shivwits Band of the Southern Paiute. The Shivwits Reservation forms a portion of the northern boundary of the Santa Clara River Reserve.
Permanent agricultural settlements were eventually established by Mormon pioneers along the Santa Clara River during the mid-19th Century. These settlements often displaced the Southern Paiute who had traditionally cultivated the same lands along the river. The early Mormon settlers of southern Utah used the nearby canyons and hills of the reserve. Several geographic features still bear the names given to them by those early residents: “Big Rock,” “The Gate Rocks,” and Cove Wash.