FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem through education, research, advocacy, and the arts. The long-term vision of FRIENDS is to achieve comprehensive watershed-based restoration and protection for the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.
Every two years, FRIENDS hosts a Great Salt Lake Issues Forum. The purpose of the forum is to encourage constructive dialogue about the future of the Lake’s ecosystem and its resources, and to illuminate the complexities involved in research, management, and planning for the Lake. The forum also explores Great Salt Lake from many different angles and in many different contexts—far beyond its resource development potential—to emphasize its ecological values as well as its intrinsic values that have contributed to our history, culture, and spirit. The program will also include resources from the region and hemisphere to share important insights from those systems that will help us—the home team—recognize how unique and critical Great Salt Lake is in that context. Program prospects for the 2020 GSL Issues Forum include Israel’s Dead Sea, Owens Lake, Mono Lake, Walker Lake, and Salton Sea.
The forum will include a 3-day poster session, awarding of the 2020 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship to a graduate and undergraduate student engaged in new or ongoing research that focuses on Great Salt Lake, and a banquet at the Alta Club where the 2020 Friend of the Lake Award will be presented.
The continuing trend toward record low elevations of Great Salt Lake and concerns about climate change, our projected population growth and water needs for the future has provided a catalyst for a variety of activities and reports that are being generated that focus on water and Lake elevations. The July 2017 Recommended State Water Strategy presented to Governor Herbert to inform his 50-yr state water plan has become a springboard for drafting legislation and organizing working groups to develop tools that translate into timely, responsible and effective measures to address water issues around the state.
There is compelling evidence to support of the urgency of taking action to address a declining Great Salt Lake. Two recent reports commissioned by the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council—Consequences of Drying Lake Systems Around the World, and Assessment of Potential Costs of Declining Water Levels in Great Salt Lake, and the work on the integration of the Great Salt Lake Integrated Model/Integrated Water Resource Model by Jacobs Engineering to analyze Lake level scenarios emphasize this urgency. Not doing anything is not an option.
The time is ripe to bring people together at the 2020 Great Salt Lake Issues Forum to engage in timely and productive discussions about Utah’s water future and how Great Salt Lake must be included. The future of Great Salt Lake is now and the forum will be a great opportunity to spotlight that.