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Celebrate Life

CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF HERITAGE PARK

Published in the August 2023 Issue Published online: Aug 06, 2023 Discover Idaho Falls, Discover Idaho Falls: Parks and Recreation
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By Susan Stucki

Within the Idaho Falls community are 56 parks. How many can you name? Now you can add one more park which is nestled along the scenic Snake River.

After a decade of planning and fundraising, Heritage Park’s base infrastructure is laid. The Ribbon Cutting was June 28 with dignitaries celebrating years of strategically curating and implementing intrinsic plans. Our newest park pays tribute to the heritage of this community and the tribes, pioneers, hydropower, nuclear energy, and agriculture which have created our local culture. Heritage Park is all about celebrating the heritage that every resident can claim. 

Significant donations have been made by many. The Stafford and Woody Smith families donated 14 acres for this park. Over a million dollars has been raised and donated by the Rotary Club. Construction by Snake River Landing, Ball Ventures, and Matt Morgan alongside the City Parks and Recreation Department have made this project possible.

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper reported, “Everyone who has supported this project over the past several years provides evidence of the great commitment our community has to providing public places for all to enjoy and to beautifying Idaho Falls. We can’t wait for the public to discover the natural landscape and beauty of Heritage Park this summer.”

The park will be built in phases, with June’s ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of Phase 1. The park will eventually include an expansion of the River Walk, nature trails and walkways, heritage stops, a nature-themed playground area, an interactive stream designed for youth water play, surface water gardens, shelters, lighting, benches, parking and other features.

Not only will the Snake Stream be a place for kids to play, but it will also ripple through the park with surface water features, and will irrigate the park, eliminating the need to use city potable water. The water will then flow back into the river.

“Our community parks provide a great place for people to enjoy the outdoors, connect with nature, and engage in physical activity,” said Parks and Recreation Director PJ Holm. “Parks improve the quality of life of our residents and are an essential part of healthy and vibrant communities, offering a myriad of economic and social benefits. Heritage Park will be a gem for years to come and we look forward to sharing this space with the community.”

Rotary Club has donated more than $6 million to the development of the Idaho Falls River Walk over the past 30 years. These funds have been raised with proceeds from the annual Great Snake River Duck Race.

Rotary member Kevin Call shared, “At Rotary, we believe we can improve our neighborhoods and community together. This donation would not have been possible without the help of many across our community who come back year after year to participate in one of my favorite events, the duck race. We also want to give a special thanks to everyone who will make this park a reality.”

Next phases include:

 The Snake Stream diversion offers the opportunity for unique educational and play for visitors.

 A network of trails is imagined framing the park, allowing visitors to wander, exercise, and explore.

Water plays an integral role in Heritage Park with the Snake River, the water diversion stream, and
the surface water rain gardens.

A community events green/amphitheater allows a venue for accommodating special events. Seating is envisioned as earthen berms with integrated benched flat areas.

In homage to its setting, the park will feature educational heritage stops around the park to teach visitors about local history, ecology, and geology.

One of the goals of Heritage Park is to encourage visitors to engage with nature. A dedicated nature play area facilitates this experience by utilizing natural elements to encourage play.

Years in the planning, many dedicated residents have been instrumental in taking a vision to reality.

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