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Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC Lead Earth Day River Cleanup to Protect Great Salt Lake


As part of Major League Soccer’s “Greener Goals” program and the RSL Community, Real Salt Lake and the NWSL Utah Royals FC partnered with local environmental organizations HEAL Utah and Seven Canyons Trust on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 for an important Earth Day cleanup event. Representatives from HEAL Utah and Seven Canyons Trust, alongside staff and players from both RSL and URFC, convened at the Jordan River Trailhead in suburban South Jordan to take part in the initiative aimed at preserving Utah’s streams and safeguarding the Great Salt Lake.

Among the notable attendees were Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath, accompanied by his family, along with Utah Royals FC players Lauren Flynn and Cristina Roque. MacMath expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative, highlighting its importance as well as the general importance of environmental action, explaining:

“I think it's a great cause! Unfortunately, a lot of things end up in the river for various reasons, and when we heard that there was going to be a river cleanup, I thought it was a great idea and I’m happy to have me and my family come out to participate and help support the community.”


Jess Laughlin, Outreach and Communications Coordinator for Seven Canyons Trust, shed light on the goals of the initiative, emphasizing the connection between water and air quality:

“Our mission is urban stream restoration and our focus is on the seven creeks that come out of the seven canyons in the Wasatch Front. We decided to do a cleanup today also because our air quality is directly tied to our water usage and our waterways. The Jordan River is a very urban river that experiences a lot of water quality issues. Doing cleanups like this is really helpful and important, not only for the Jordan River but also for the Great Salt Lake because it’s all a shared watershed and everything that is upstream ends up in the lake eventually.”

The event also served as a platform for community engagement and environmental education. The collaboration between major league sports organizations and environmental nonprofits underlines a shared commitment to sustainability and community engagement. By leveraging their platforms and collective resources, Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC, HEAL Utah and Seven Canyons Trust illustrate the power of collective action in addressing environmental challenges. As Rachel Jaclin, the Community Relations Coordinator for Real Salt Lake and the Utah Royals highlights:

“I think it’s really important because a lot of kids look up to these players. They are their inspiration, so seeing that the players are doing good things in the environment shows the kids that they can too, and that these players - whilst obviously good at soccer - are also good role models and influences. They care about the community as well as their soccer, and it’s nice that they are able to give back, come outside, and show that they care about their environment.”

Utah Royals defender Lauren Flynn echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of players and teammates using their platform for positive change:

“It’s awesome to be able to come out and give back to the community that gives us so much support. I think it’s also important with the platform that the Utah Royals players have if we can highlight these sort of events and actions more to try and get more people involved, it can make such a big difference. Using our platform for change and progress is really important and is what we should do.”


As the event drew to a close, the collective efforts of volunteers yielded tangible results, with several bags of weeds and litter uprooted and removed from the river surroundings. The impact of the initiative extends far beyond the immediate cleanup efforts, however. It also serves as a catalyst and an inspiration for ongoing environmental advocacy and community engagement.

By uniting for the Earth Day river cleanup, Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC, HEAL Utah, and Seven Canyons Trust demonstrated the power of collective action in protecting Utah’s natural river resources and helping to preserve the Great Salt Lake for time to come.