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Taylorsville Journal

Retired hydrologist/geologist bringing lots of new experience to the Taylorsville Green Committee

Feb 06, 2023 02:04PM ● By Carl Fauver

Retired water quality hydrologist and minerals geologist Richard Jirik is expected to be a big asset to the Taylorsville Green Committee. (Courtesy of Richard Jirik)

Considering Taylorsville City doesn’t budget any pay for its various community service committee members, it can be a little tricky to find and keep enthusiastic, productive volunteers. Maintaining membership is typically a bit easier for more “glamorous” committees, like Parks & Recreation or Historic Preservation, because, let’s face it, they are taking on fun projects like showing outdoor summer movies in Centennial Plaza or organizing elementary school field trips to the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center.

Even membership on the sometimes-dry Public Safety Committee has been a bit more glamorous over the past year-and-a-half, as members have watched and sometimes assisted the city’s new Taylorsville Police Department come to life.

But if there’s a low-key, “definitely-not-glamorous” group volunteering time to serve city residents, it would seem to be the Green Committee. Honestly, do any of us still get excited about discussing recycling?

Richard Jirik does. And that’s what makes this newest member of the Taylorsville Green Committee such a key find, as the group looks to launch new initiatives and take on new challenges in 2023.

“We are lucky to have Richard join us, with his career background,” Green Committee Chair Mark Wendel said. “He joined us last fall, after attending one of our localscape information seminars. He’s already sharing some great ideas with the committee.”

Speaking of new initiatives, the Green Committee introduced localscape meetings to the community last year. Sessions were held at city hall on April 14, May 2 and the one Jirik attended, Sept. 23, 2022. Hosted by the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, the sessions are intended to show us how to update our landscaping to make it more dry-climate friendly.

From the Jordan Valley website ( you can find the localscape website (, where it’s explained: “The localscape approach is a series of landscaping patterns and practices that take into account Utah’s unique climate. It’s good landscape design, simplified. Now you can have a landscape that works for where you live.”

Wendel says the three Taylorsville localscape sessions proved very popular. The first two were available live online, as well as in person. The committee is trying now to schedule another session for March.

But most significantly – for the future of the city’s perhaps lowest-profile service committee – that’s where Jirik first learned there is such a thing as a Taylorsville Green Committee. 

“I had no idea the committee existed until I saw ‘Green Committee’ on a flier from the localscape presentation,” Jirik said. “I have been somewhat of an environmental activist for 20 to 30 years. One of my passions is recycling. So, I attended the committee’s October meeting and am excited to be a part of it.”

Jirik went on to explain he’s now retired from a 40+ year career working as a geologist and hydrologist, primarily based in Reno and here in the Salt Lake area.

“I worked for private companies, consulting on ground water quality issues at hard rock mining sites,” Jirik said. “As a hydrologist, I also did a lot of work at Tooele Army Depot. Through this work I discovered the importance of maintaining our resources, our planet. I think the Green Committee is a good fit for me.”

Although she doesn’t know him personally, Mayor Kristie Overson agrees, Jirik is a valuable addition to the Green Committee.

“I read Richard’s (committee membership) application and he seems very qualified and enthusiastic,” Overson said. “We love it when people step up to serve. And, obviously, our Green Committee is growing in importance, with all the clean air and water issues we face. The city is very conscious about working to leave a smaller (environmental) footprint.”

Before launching into his 4-decade career, Jirik earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology. A half-century ago, in the early 1970s, he was in the midst of a 3-year stint studying at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

“The coldest temperature reading I can recall while I was up there was 51 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit,” he said. “Fairbanks is surrounded on three sides by mountains so there is not much wind. That was the actual temperature – not wind chill. They also get very dense winter fog. After graduating in 1974 I worked in Anchorage for a time. But I was happy to get back (to the lower 48 states).”

As part of his recycling passion, Jirik routinely goes out on his own to gather recyclable materials, redirecting them from the garbage. He and the other Green Committee members are now discussing potential community initiatives to get more of us to recycle as well.

“Richard will be a very valuable member of our committee,” said Councilman Ernest Burgess, the city’s longtime liaison to the Green Committee. “I’m very impressed with the volunteer work he’s begun doing for us already.”

As most city residents probably know, the one time each year when the low-key Green Committee takes center stage is when the group hosts its annual Cleanup Day. Coronavirus killed the event in 2020. But in 2021, and again last year, the popular event came back bigger and better than ever before.

Two significant changes helped grow Cleanup Day: it was moved from city hall to the Taylorsville High School parking lot, and it was pushed back from Earth Day (April 22) a couple of months to after kids are out of school.

Last year’s Cleanup Day, on June 18, was the most successful ever. Nearly 100 Taylorsville High football players and coaches volunteered at the 4-hour event, which allowed materials to be moved from donor trucks and trailers to their appropriate piles much more quickly than ever before.

Green Committee Chair Wendel reports the 2022 Cleanup Day generated:
7.9 tons of shredded paper
6.8 tons of garbage
6.2 tons of electronic waste
4.5 tons of green waste, and
Well over 1,000 lbs. of glass, paint and household hazardous waste

There are now eight members of the Green Committee, with four to six of them attending each monthly meeting. The group meets on the first Tuesday of each month, in the fire station west of Taylorsville City Hall. The Feb. 7 meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.

If you have any questions about the Taylorsville Green Committee, contact Chairman Mark Wendel at [email protected] Or, simply attend that next meeting, where you can ask Richard Jirik what 51 degrees below zero feels like.
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