The Morgan County Council is interested enough in a proposal to restore and enhance the Weber River through the county that they agreed to prioritize a design study.
The study focusing on the area below Round Valley Golf Course down river to Riverside Park will determine the feasibility of ensuring local ditch companies continue to get their allotted water, as well as costs and possible phasing of the entire $5 million project.
The council voted to place the $56,000 design study on its Community Impact Board list, meaning the county sees it as a priority in need of future funding. Half of that may be donated by the Department of Natural Resources. Still others may be interested in contributing to funding of the study.
According to RiverRestoration.org, benefits to the project include reducing flooding hazards, providing fish passage, reducing navigation hazards for boats and tubes, restoring bank stability, enhancing river recreation, improving aquatic habitats, providing social and environmental benefits, increasing river access points, and finally promoting economic growth.
Crystal Young, a hydrologist with RiverRestoration.org, said an enhanced river could promote new business, increase property values, lower maintenance costs for ditch companies, and decrease the chance of flooding.
By simply observing the number of visitors to that particular stretch of the Weber River at a conservative 2,000 per day at peak seasons, river enhancements could bring Morgan County $2.6 million in economic impact and $160,00 in sales tax, Young said.
“There is great potential for an economic impact through town,” Young said.
The Weber River could very well be Morgan County’s key to claiming a portion of the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry and $525 billion in travel-related spending, Young said. Morgan has the potential to join the ranks of Golden, Vail, Durango, Steamboat Springs, Reno, and the Arkansas River Valley, Young said.
But there are literal obstacles to seeing that cash flow.
The popularity of the Henefer to Taggarts stretch of the Weber River for tubers, kayakers and other river floaters ends at Taggarts because of the many physical obstacles along the river, Young said. If eight-foot drops could be reconfigured to two four-foot drops, the area may be more attractive to recreationists, she said.