St. George is now home to Utah’s first interactive desert garden showcasing water-efficient landscapes, endangered species and prehistoric tracks in one central location – the Red Hills Desert Garden. Rosenberg Associates had the unique opportunity to provide engineering services for a one-of-a-kind public enhancement project that was a joint venture between three public entities: the Virgin River Program, the Washington County Water Conservancy District, and the City of St. George.
Rosenberg Associates partnered to engineer a functioning stream as the park’s water feature. Having a water feature in a park is not uncommon, except that this water feature needed to not only provide a visual enhancement to the park, it also needed to function as a biologically sustainable habitat for the Virgin River native fish species. This was accomplished by designing a stream that utilized water pumped to the park from the Virgin River, that featured pools and eddies that invite productive fish habitat, and that had the capability of mimicking seasonal low-flow and high-flow conditions.
Red Hills Desert Garden was designed to be a “world class” showcase garden – a place where the public could come and be educated about water-efficient landscaping methods and plant species in an up-close, interactive environment. The garden design features multiple pathways, resting points, shade structures, bridges and stepping stones, that crisscross the stream and landscaping in every direction. The focal point of the park’s design is the stream water viewing area, accessed by a red-rock slot canyon that draws visitors to three plexiglass panels that allow an underwater view of the fish habitat – that is if the Virgin River water is clear enough on the day you visit.
Rosenberg Associates designed the stream hydraulics, park feature structures, bridges, slot canyon retaining walls, grading and drainage, and helped to make sure everything fit together during construction.