Firefly Park brings nature preservation and education together

Nibley City is excited to officially open their new Firefly Park to the public and create a space where dozens of birds and rare fireflies can safely reside.

Centered on a 20-acre lot just west of Heritage Park, the land has been in agricultural use for over 150 years before the city bought it back in 2015. The city was able to secure more than a million dollars in funding to purchase, develop, and build the nature park. The final price tag will be around $1.5 million after the final phases are complete next summer.

“People visiting Heritage Park discovered that they could see fireflies near the end of the property at night, so the city council decided to purchase that property and turn it into a nature park,” said Nibley City Manager David Zook.

The city has built trails, boardwalks, benches, a playground, a pollinator garden, and educational signs. They’ve also planted over 100 trees so far and have plans to plant hundreds more. Zook said the second half of the plan will bring in observation towers, a restroom pavilion, bird blinds and potentially expanding the wetland to create open water for the birds.

“We named it Firefly Park because of the fireflies, but it has other valuable nature aspects as well,” Zook said. “More than two dozen species of birds reside there, too.”

The natural wetland provides water and shelter for the birds and the tall grass and mud welcome the fireflies. Nibley City Council is working on passing an ordinance to restrict dogs from being allowed in the park and making the capturing of fireflies illegal.

“The reason why they are doing both those things is to protect the wildlife there. Dogs, because of the

birds, and we don’t want people capturing the fireflies because they are a rare species here,” Zook explained.

Zook believes the fireflies will continue to survive and thrive in the nature park, “if we continue to take care of them and not catch them.”

“Going forward from this point, we want to encourage our residents to use the park and ask them to be respectful of the wildlife there,” Zook added.

The time to enjoy the fireflies is quickly running out. They show up the first part of June for mating season and are usually gone before the 4th of July. People are encouraged to come when it is completely dark, around 10 p.m. Zook said the best place to see them is the west side of Heritage Park by the willow tree.

“If people would like to go see them, do it soon,” Zook implored.

Even though they share a mutual border, Firefly Park is a completely separate park from Heritage Park. “It’s a nature park,” said Zook. “There are no athletic fields, just open space, and nature.”

The park doesn’t officially open until June 29, but since the trails haven’t been gated off, Zook said many residents have already enjoyed the 1-mile walking trail. The city is holding a grand opening event Saturday, June 29 starting at 5 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting, speech from the Mayor, and a family parade around the trail. The city is asking bikes and dogs be left home for this event. There will be an educational nature activity by Stokes Nature Center, and a free sunset yoga class at 8 p.m. At 10 p.m., the fireflies will be out and the Cache Valley Astronomical Society will host a star party.

“We invite our citizens and neighbors to come enjoy this park. We hope they love it as much as we do,” Zook said.

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