The straight-line flow of the channelized river could change if the restoration project becomes reality.
Helper City's plan to transform the Price River into a centerpiece for development got a boost Monday from the county's Recreation/Transportation Special Service District.
The district board agreed to allocate $36,000 to help fund most of the cost of an engineering study for the project. Helper will pick up the tab for the remaining $12,000.
Mayor Dean Armstrong and the city council have been working for months with River Restoration, a Colorado firm that specializes in engineering rivers for recreation and habitat improvement.
In Utah, the firm has designed the transformation of the Ogden River from an eyesore into a community showcase.
Armstrong told the district board that such a project in Helper would benefit the quality of life and economic development of the whole county, not only his town.
The river that bisects Helper has been channelized for decades, flowing at high velocity in a straight line through town. This creates turbidity and makes access to river banks difficult.
A redesign with a few meanders and other improvements could create rapids for kayakers and slow areas where sediment could settle out, making the water clear enough for fishing.
The engineering study will produce a plan that can be marketed to potential donors and government agencies for financial support, the mayor said.
The recreational enhancement also fits hand-in-glove with the city's overall flood control plan. Helper has qualified for about $7 million in grants for stormwater improvements from the Community Impact Board and is eligible for another $12 million in low-interest loans for water and sewer improvements.