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Group aims to preserve warm spring in Washington City

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Posted at 5:08 AM, May 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-28 15:29:38-04

WASHINGTON CITY - A Southern Utah group is trying to raise support to preserve an area landmark that, they say, got buried by the interstate.

“It took us about a split second to realize the potential of this site,” said Boiling Springs Ecoseum and Desert Preserve president Niki Warner. “And realized how important this site was to our community.”

Warner said growing up in Washington City she’d heard stories of the warm spring, and how residents used them as a popular recreation spot. She wants to give that back to the community.

“Largly it’s just been kind of forgotten,” Warner said. “There are the old time citizens who still remember with great fondness the boilers, but when you look at the explosive population growth of Washington County, I’m sure its just a very small percentage.”

After the Utah Department of Transportation built I-15 right next to the spring in the 1960s, use of the area declined. Activities turned form recreation to drinking and drugs.

“It became an eye-sore,” said Washington City mayor Ken Neilson. “It became a dumping ground, for trash and garbage and stuff.”

The city eventually fenced off the area in the late 90s, feeling it was a liability. Neilson said they’ve always had plans to clean up the spring, but the fact that this outside group has that same interest, has caused the idea to gain steam.”

“It helps us to maybe to be motivated a little quicker,” said Neilson. “To see if that’s something we want to do or allow them to do it, and be a partner with them.”

Warner’s group’s plan would build a museum near the spring and improve the grounds to highlight the unique ecosystem and preserve the still used water source. Plans also include trail system up the nearby Milcreek Canyon

There’s no formal agreement with the city for development, that would have to be approved by the city council. For now Warner is working on fundraising. She says they need upwards of $20 million for the entire project. One of the main concerns is maintaining water rights, and Warner says any development agreement would not only protect, but enhance the water flow out of the spring.

More information on the proposed enhancement can be found on the Boiling Springs Ecoseum and Desert Preserve website, here: http://www.theboilingsprings.org/