Confluence Park Restoration Efforts
Imagine it is a hot October day in 1776 and you are a member of the expedition led by Spanish explorers and missionaries Father Dominguez and Father Escalante. You are trying to find a way back home to Santa Fe and you are hungry, thirsty, tired and not sure of the best route to take. Imagine your surprise when you come to a special place where two streams join a river, where an Indian group had established cornfields and irrigation ditches and you will be able to rest and stock up on provisions for your journey ahead.
This special place is known to us now as The Confluence, the area where Ash Creek and LaVerkin Creek join the Virgin River. Since that time in 1776 others have visited here – trapper Jedediah Smith, explorer John C. Fremont, early Mormon pioneer groups led by Parley Pratt, John D. Lee and Nephi Johnson – all leading to the ultimate establishment of the communities of Hurricane, LaVerkin, and Toquerville. While these communities have grown, this confluence area has been left largely in agriculture or a natural state.
The canyon where Ash and LaVerkin Creeks join the Virgin River provides unparalleled opportunities for picnicking, hiking, bird watching and horseback riding among shady stands of cottonwood and sandy beaches. Although the river is in a deep canyon both up and downstream, the confluence area itself is easily accessible from both LaVerkin and Hurricane.
Fresh creek water feeds into the mineral-rich river below Pah Tempe Hot Springs, providing critical habitat to native fish species including the Woundfin, Virgin River Chub, and Virgin Spinedace. Local, state and federal agencies are working in concert to provide adequate water for a growing population while protecting native fish. Protecting the confluence area contributes to these efforts.
The Washington County Commission recognized the benefits of setting this area aside for the public’s use and enjoyment and for the preservation of its historic and natural resources. The County has worked with the Virgin River Land Preservation Association, a local nonprofit organization, to acquire the property. Over 330 acres have been purchased or secured, and agreements are being negotiated for additional acres. These acquisitions have been possible because of the support of local citizens and government officials. Generous funding was donated by many partners, including the State of Utah Quality Growth Commission, George S. and Dolores Dore’ Eccles Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Virgin River Resource Management and Recovery Program (“Virgin River Program”), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chums LTD, and other private funders.
Conservation easements were placed on the property to protect the interests of donors and to ensure, for posterity, that the property is jointly managed as a public park and nature preserve.
The Confluence Park objectives are to preserve and protect historic and prehistoric resources, scenic vistas, native species and their habitat, and to provide a special place for people to enjoy these resources and cultural riches.