PARK CITY, Utah — The Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter is an extension of Utah State University. The 1,200-acre nature preserve provides habitat space for countless native species of flora and fauna. In addition to a wildlife sanctuary, the EcoCenter offers community education and learning opportunities. The museum exhibits, local craft-centered gift shop, and indoor climbing wall are in the EcoCenter’s LEED Platinum-certified building.
The Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter’s mission is to “Preserve the land and the human connection to the natural landscape. Educate the local and broader communities about the value of nature. Nurture both the ecosystem and the people connected with it.”
Janna Coulter is the Community Engagement Manager for the Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter. “I love helping connect people to opportunities at Swaner where they can participate in an educational program, visit the EcoCenter, or get their hands dirty through a volunteer conservation project,” she says.
The protected greenspace and wetlands attract diverse species and create excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. “Just behind the EcoCenter, 850 acres of critical wetlands are home to foxes, badgers, beavers, and other small mammals. In the spring, dozens of migrating sandhill cranes nest on the preserve and raise their chicks here” Janna describes, “On the north side of I-80, an additional 350 acres of sagebrush shrubland habitat is also part of Swaner Preserve. This is the most biodiverse section of Swaner where we see abundant summer wildflowers and lots of ground-nesting birds.”
Swaner Preserve is a reminder of how human development has changed the landscape in Park City. “When people walk or bike around the south side or on the north side of the preserve, they’re reminded of what this area used to look like,” Janna explains.
Abundant educational opportunities include weekly and Saturday morning nature walks, seasonal geocaching, tours of the LEED platinum building, and Swaner Shorts, a weekly nature discussion with experts on native animals, habitats, and human impact.
Janna describes a few of the favorite educational programs, “Our youth summer camps are extremely popular and a community favorite!”
She continues, “Last summer, we debuted an event featuring local Utah wines and winemakers, ‘Wine Among the Willows.’ We did this in partnership with the Utah Wine Festival. It was such a joy to spend a beautiful summer evening on the back porches of the EcoCenter while learning about winemaking efforts in Utah. We plan to bring it back again this summer.”
The EcoCenter museum is a highlight for visitors, “I love that the EcoCenter’s museum is always changing,” Janna says, “There are great learning features for all ages such as our interactive ‘Why Wetlands?’ display, and I also love the hands-on crafts and community artwork that our visitors make as part of their visits. We typically bring in traveling exhibitions every spring and fall, so there is always something new to see.”
Park City is a natural home for the Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter. “The Park City community is amazing and supports Swaner in so many essential ways. Our members, donors, and neighbors are fantastic advocates of our work to preserve, educate, and nurture a love of nature,” Janna exclaims.