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The Utah Wildlife Walls Project: Connecting People with Nature

Utah Wildlife Walls is a new project aimed at bringing wildlife to people through landscape-sized art, history, and storytelling. The project, spearheaded by the Utah Wildlife Federation and artist Chris Peterson, held its first celebration in October 2022 with the First Annual Bonnie Ball, highlighting a 120-foot mural of the native Bonneville cutthroat trout. The event, held at The Neighborhood Hive in Sugar House, showcased a grassroots community of Utahns interested in celebrating and learning about the wildlife in the state. Through this project, the organizers hope to create a greater connection between people and the unique species that call Utah home.

Salt Lake City (March 14, 2023) - Utah has a rich natural heritage, with a diversity of wildlife species that call the state home. The relationship between people and wildlife has changed over time, but the importance of connecting with wild animals remains a vital part of living in the American West. This connection is often emphasized through annual gatherings for hunting, fishing, and birding outings. As Americans grow more disconnected with wild places and the unique species that roam there, it is time to bring wildlife to the people.

Enter the Utah Wildlife Walls project, an initiative spearheaded by the Utah Wildlife Federation and local artist Chris Peterson. The project aims to educate the public about Utah's native wildlife species and conservation efforts by creating prominent wildlife murals in each county of Utah.

The project was launched in the fall of 2022 with a 120-foot mural of a Bonneville cutthroat trout on a building in Sugar House. The mural serves as a beautiful and educational backdrop for events and gatherings held in the area. During the mural's unveiling, the Utah Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the Neighborhood Hive Market, hosted the First Annual Bonnie Ball in celebration of Utah's state fish. The event showcased the completed mural and a baby trout fish tank inside, and demonstrated the grassroots community of Utahns who want to gather to celebrate and learn about the wildlife in our state.

Renowned conservation writer Terry Tempest Williams attended the event and addressed the crowd of about 300 people. “This is what community looks like,” she said, noting the importance of connecting young people with wildlife. Williams had conducted two writing workshops for children, with many adults who snuck their way in during the festivities of the day.

“Being with these young people made me realize they are thinking about the present and the future,” Williams said. “They were talking about grief. They were longing to ask questions like why have we forgotten that we too are animals? We are in good hands.”

The Utah Wildlife Walls project aims to inspire people to get out into nature and experience the state's wild places for themselves. The murals serve as a reminder of the incredible diversity of species that call Utah home and the importance of conservation efforts to protect them. The project has received funding from the Utah Cutthroat Slam, a fishing challenge that requires participants to catch Utah's four native cutthroat trout subspecies in their native ranges. Roughly $19 of each $20 registration fee goes toward conservation projects for the native species.

The Utah Wildlife Walls project is an exciting and innovative way to connect people with nature and promote conservation efforts in Utah. By bringing wildlife to the people through large-scale art installations, the project is inspiring a new generation to appreciate and protect Utah's natural heritage. The Utah Wildlife Federation and Chris Peterson are to be commended for their efforts, and we look forward to seeing more wildlife murals popping up across the state in the coming years.

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