ENOCH – The Southwest Wildlife Foundation is moving from its long-standing headquarters in Cedar Canyon Park and will soon be relocating to Enoch.
Martin Tyner, who, along with his wife Susan, started the foundation about 25 years ago, said the organization’s new location would be on a 1.3 acre site in the northern part of town, next door Enoch Dog Park and Animal Shelter.
Tyner, who has dedicated the last 50 years of his life to rehabilitating birds and other wildlife, said he preferred not to dwell on the circumstances that recently prompted him to abandon plans for the Cedar Canyon Nature Park he had long envisioned near the mouth. of the Cedars Canyon.
“I don’t want this to be negative for Cedar City, just because of the current political environment within Cedar City, my organization has determined that Cedar Canyon Nature Park is no longer a viable project. “Tyner told Cedar City News during an interview at his home in Enoch.
“We decided that if our organization was going to move forward, we felt there was a need to step outside the confines of Cedar City and look for opportunities elsewhere,” he said.
“Enoch rolled out the red carpet and was very proactive in bringing us to Enoch to be a part of their community,” he added. “They want the Southwest Wildlife Foundation to be headquartered in Enoch, which is why we chose to go there.”
Tyner then called Enoch City manager Rob Dotson “a real hero of this story.”
“To be honest with you, he’s not the typical bureaucrat I’ve had to deal with for the past 50+ years,” Tyner said. “I sat down in his office and explained the situation, what was going on and what we are trying to accomplish. And Rob Dotson says, ‘Well I have an idea.’ And I’m like ‘Okay, I like ideas.’ “
“And he said, ‘We have four estates in Enoch. Please go take a look at these goods, and if any of them work for you, come back and let’s sit down and talk.
Ultimately, Tyner said he and his wife decided the plot near the dog park would be the best fit for the foundation’s needs.
Shortly thereafter, Enoch City Council unanimously agreed to lease the property to the Southwest Wildlife Foundation for $ 1 per year for the next 100 years.
Tyner said he then gave Dotson a check for $ 100 to pay for the next century in advance.
“Instead of writing a check for $ 1 every year, let’s manage it a hundred years in advance,” he recalls, laughing.
The Tyners, who are themselves longtime residents of Enoch, say they appreciate the city’s willingness to help.
“We have a community that has told me personally, ‘We love who you are and we love what you do,’” Tyner said. “You have been a tremendous asset to Utah and southern Utah in particular.”
“We have an unelected bureaucrat who is ready to step in and solve a problem,” Tyner said of Dotson. “He was ready to take the problem and think outside the box, and come forward to help solve it.”
“It’s an incredible example of how government should work,” Tyner added.
Tyner said the first phase of upcoming plans will be to build a raptor rescue facility capable of housing several large birds of prey during their rehabilitation.
“The center of the building will have eagle flight chambers that will measure 20 feet wide and 100 feet long,” he said. “Up front is our clinic, where we welcome injured animals and the public can come in and look through a viewing window to see what we’re working on.”
Tyner said construction on the raptor rescue center is expected to begin in early fall. Instead of the traditional groundbreaking ceremony, he plans to organize a tree-planting event instead.
“It will be a ‘rooting’ ceremony,” he said.
Tyner said once the raptor rescue center is complete and operational, a mammal facility will be the next phase. “And when this is finished, I would like to build a small conference hall on this small lot, so that we can do our educational programs,” he added.
During Cedar City News’ recent hour-long interview with Tyner, he received two phone calls from people who had found wild birds in need of help. Tyner gladly accepted the two, a Cooper’s hawk that had fallen from its nest in St. George and a young sparrow-like bird found by a passerby along a trail in Cedar City. In each case, Tyner told helpful caregivers that he would feed and care for the bird until it can be safely released back into the wild.
The Southwest Wildlife Foundation, which is registered as a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, has raised more than $ 500,000 in donations over the past year to build the new facility, Tyner said.
“We don’t get a dime of standard federal funding to take care of these animals,” he said. “These are all private donations, and that makes the kindness of all of these people so important to us.”
“The cuteness is literally overwhelming,” he said. “I can’t even understand that… people I’ve never met from literally every corner of the planet.”
Although he enjoys caring for injured and sick animals, Tyner said he thinks his most important job is education.
“I save thousands more animals with every school program I do than by physically saving an animal,” he said. “I am a strong believer in education, not legislation. This is how we protect the environment, so people can see how amazing these animals really are. Once they understand that when they go out into the wild, they don’t harm them. It has been my philosophy all my life.
For more information on the Southwest Wildlife Foundation, visit its website or his Facebook page. In addition, its YouTube channel includes nearly 400 videos, some of which have attracted millions of views.
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