Santa Clara’s Arboretum is an important outdoor treasure, and like the City itself has a long and valuable history. Located to the east of the City, just north of the Little League fields, the Arboretum is a unique blend of desert park, wetlands, and wildlife sanctuary. It is an area that is constantly evolving.
The Arboretum’s unique landscape and variety of vegetation was originally the vision of Dr. Robert Shepherd, the man who hand built the Arboretum in the early 1980’s. Numerous city residents enjoyed the Arboretum, but by 2003 its wetlands had been choked by an abundance of non-native Tamarisk.
Over the years, numerous projects have been undertaken to restore the Arboretum. A Dixie College Community Day spearheaded enthusiasm to clean up the Arboretum in 2004. Unfortunately, the Tamarisk trees caught fire that same year and a large section of the Arboretum burned. A grant was obtained from the Utah Quality Growth Commission to fund restoration and remove the invasive Tamarisk. In 2005, efforts focused on the cactus garden. Additional funding was obtained from the Utah Quality Growth Commission in 2008 to restore stream banks in the wash, establish an irrigation system, and eradicate weeds and Tamarisk.
Visitors to the Arboretum will find several winding and connecting trails leading through underbrush and over lava rocks, with native plants, shrubs and trees neatly labeled. The area includes experimental species that are testing their ability to survive southwest Utah’s desert climate. A walk through the Arboretum reveals much about the local geology and abundant wildlife residing there.
Floods in recent years have changed the Arboretum area again. Much work still remains to complete the Arboretum restoration. To volunteer time, equipment, or cash donations, please call Santa Clara Parks Director Brad Hays (435-656-4690 ext 221). Also visit the Volunteer Opportunities page to view the currently available opportunities for this project.