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What is the Seven Canyons Trust?

The Seven Canyons Trust is a 501-(c)3 non-profit organization working to daylighting and rehabilitating the seven creeks of Utah's Wasatch Range, restoring the health and beauty to the hydrology of the Salt Lake valley. The Trust developed a visioning document, 100 Years of Daylighting, for the uncovering and restoration of the seven canyons creeks -- City, Red Butte, Emigration, Parley's, Mill, Big Cottonwood, and Little Cottonwood Creeks. This document explores ideas, visions, and goals to begin this process.

What is daylighting?

Daylighting is a term to describe the uncovering of buried urban waters, bringing them back to the surface, and restoring their stream channel. As urbanization gripped the Salt Lake valley, riparian areas gave way to concrete and asphalt, bricks and mortar. Rather than hiding creeks in pipes and culverts, daylighting restores beauty and health to the waters.

Will Daylighting increase flooding risk?

Daylighting can actually increase the hydrological function of a creek, meaning it is better able to slow down water velocities and increase infiltration of stormwater. By reconstructing a natural channel, with meanders and rough, woody banks and reconnecting  the creek to its floodplain, the overall capacity of the system to mitigate floods is increased. Daylighting eliminates choke points in culverts, reducing flooding that can occur due to clogged culverts or flows that exceed the capacity of an inflexible system. Stormdrain systems stay intact during daylighting. Therefore, access flows that exceed the capacity of the creek channel can be sent to the stormdrain.

Case studies have shown to mitigate the need for communities to buy flood insurance. Although, this does not mean that everyone should stop buying flood insurance after a daylighting project. Each landowner should assess this on case-by-case basis. However, projects would only be pursued if they decreased the risk of flooding in local flood zones. 

Will Daylighting increase the risk of West nile?

Constructed creek channels are designed and engineered to keep water flowing through the system. Flowing water prevents the breeding of mosquitos, as well as, works to retain nutrients better. The aboveground sections of the creeks are highly managed for mosquito populations. Therefore, daylight sections will be managed in the same way.

Will the creeks ever run dry during certain seasons?

The seven creeks range from perennial to intermittent. Portions of the creeks are artificially de-watered by antiquated irrigation systems. This is destructive to riparian vegetation that depend on perennial flow and fish that can no longer navigate the waterway. Daylighting projects will be designed to reflect natural and historic flows.

What condition are the creeks currently in?

The conditions of these creeks vary from below ground to above ground, degraded to pristine, and neglected to cherished. Much of the creeks to in the northern Salt Lake Valley have been piped to make way for the skyscrapers of Salt Lake City. Whereas, many of the southern creeks wind through residential neighborhood, piped only in small sections, but have been neglected and encroached upon. Many of these above ground sections are also greatly restricted and forced into channels, often through industrial and commercial areas, separated from pollutants by little more than a narrow bank. Many of these private property sections have been cut off from the public. However, we believe that this is everyone's water, for all to enjoy.

Images and maps of the current conditions can be found in the our IMAGES page and our MAPS page.

Who owns the land in consideration?

The land is a patchwork of public and private land. Much of it is owned by individuals. Smaller portions exist as public lands and several large swaths are controlled by commercial and industrial companies.

WHat is the vision for the future of the creeks?

We have developed a 100 year vision document to start the discussion about daylighting. This document is called the 100 Years of Daylighting and can be found HERE. This document was created with the long term in mind, we expect the daylighting and rehabilitation of our seven canyon creeks to take 100 years. This 100 years is due to the patch of public and private land that needs to be surmounted to begin the restoration of these creeks to their former glory. Short, medium, and long term strategies will be enact to raise awareness for these creeks, to take advantage of quick opportunities, and to solve complex solutions.

We have also compiled a page for daylighting precedents around the world, which can be found on our PRECEDENTS page.

How can I get involved?

We are actively seeking friends and partners to join us in our mission to daylight and rehabilitate the seven canyons creeks. Check out our FRIENDS & PARTNERS page to fill out our form. We would be happy to include you on our website, in exchange for your assistance and dedication to our mission.

We are also actively seeking out donations to help sustain and perpetuate our presence as an organization. Investors in our mission and the health and beauty of the hydrology of the Salt Lake Valley can donate on our DONATION page. Join our organization at four different levels, Sustainer's Club to help our day to day operations, Contributor's Club to facilitate community build and awareness around the creeks, Rehabilitator's Club to fund restoration of the creeks, and Daylightor's Club to help bring up a section of the creeks into the daylight.

Please email us HERE with any questions, comments, or ideas in regards to your involvement with us. We would love to collaborate with you!


We would love to host your volunteer event! To make it an efficient use of our resources, we request that you have a group of 15 or more volunteers willing to help. We can supply tools, gloves, and knowledge, please bring your own transportation, water, and snacks. If you have a location in mind, we would be happy to provide the tools necessary to clean up debris and remove invasive species. If you do not have a location in mind, we would love to take you to one of our priority sites. If you do not have a group big enough, check our EVENTS page for any upcoming events to attend. 

Please email us HERE with any inquiries or questions!