By Greg Wilcox
Last summer, I joined a team of yachters out on the Great Salt Lake competing in a weekly race. I landed on a vessel owned by Tim Adams, an avid yachter who has been sailing for more than a quarter century.
"If you can sail here, you can sail anywhere," he said. "I've sailed in the Mediterranean near Turkey, the South Pacific, up and down the West Coast to Mexico. This is the most difficult and challenging place to sail. It's an amazing place."
The team of yachters certainly had their work cut out for them that evening. In what to me was nothing short of utterly confusing, the six of them scurried around the vessel, pulling on ropes, unfurling sails, shouting about aft, backstay, tack, and, in general, speaking a parlance of which I know nothing about and am not remotely qualified to convey.
I'm told the boat we are on usually takes first place; this evening, it came in last. Some things went wrong that, as mentioned, I don't know enough about to explain. I presume (but not fully sure) it had nothing to do with me.
It doesn't matter; drinks and barbeque were on hand, as well as good-natured camaraderie. The Great Salt Lake Yacht Club, established on May 10, 1877, meets every week to enjoy sailing on the lake's salty waters. Good spirits prevail as club members joke and jibe each other over this attempt to best each other in the weekly race. When asked about the lake, the sailors speak admirably.
"It's stunningly beautiful; the water is typically glassy smooth," Adams says. "It has its own magical quality."
Their weekly nautical avocation has been hampered, however, by the well-documented and highly visible fact that the Great Salt Lake is disappearing. Among other factors, this has impacted recreational sailing, primarily due to the difficulties of entering and exiting the Great Salt Lake Marina.
"Ten years ago, we had some 45 boats down there, now there's 20, so now we're at less than half capacity, and certainly it's dwindling with the decreased water levels," Adams says, referring to the number of boats venturing out to race. He adds that he and his wife have downsized their own vessel in order to handle the lower water level.
Janet Robins, commodore of the yacht club, says meeting the challenges has been a struggle. After a lengthy battle, the Legislature approved funds for a dredging (the removal of excess sand, silt, mud, etc.) of the marina two years ago. But the continued problematic lake level, in addition to skepticism over the efficacy of the dredging effort, mean current conditions have still been a far cry from smooth sailing for local yachters.
"Because the marina has not been maintained properly, combined with low water conditions, our sailing activities have been severely limited," Robins says.
In November 2016, the Great Salt Lake reached its lowest level in recorded history. Although the lake levels fluctuate over the years and we have been in a years-long drought (interrupted by this year's above-average precipitation), a study conducted by researchers at Utah State University that same year, showed that water diversions of rivers that feed the Great Salt Lake over the last 170 years are primarily responsible for diminished lake levels of 11 feet, or 48% reductions in volume.
Some blame climate change and drought conditions. While it's true in the long-term that climate change will have an effect on the Great Salt Lake, Wayne Wurtsbaugh, a USU professor who helped author the study, writes via email, "While we're waiting for climate change impacts, the lake may very well be dried up by water diversions and development."
Seeing the direct effects of these upstream diversions, Robins shared this sentiment and has a bleak view of the future for the yacht club.
"With proposed diversions, we will probably not be able to enjoy [the lake] for more than another year or so," she says.
By Michael D. Vanden Berg, Utah Geological Survey
The Sedimentary Record, Vol. 17, No. 1, March 2019
Two recent events have put Great Salt Lake (GSL) in northern Utah at the forefront of microbialite research. First, massive oil accumulations were discovered in the mid-2000s in offshore South Atlantic “pre-salt” deposits of Cretaceous lacustrine carbonates, including purported microbialites. Petroleum geologists working the pre-salt reservoirs fanned the globe looking for analogs to better understand lacustrine systems and the unique highly permeable and porous deposits called microbialites. At about the same time, GSL experienced record low levels not seen since the early 1960s, exposing one of the world’s largest Holocene accumulations of lacustrine microbialites. As a result, GSL quickly became a must visit locale for petroleum geologists. In light of this new international interest, researchers have sought to better understand GSL microbialites―their age, formation mechanisms, distribution, and relationship to other lake facies. This paper provides an introduction to the basic morphology of these unique structures and how local environmental conditions, as well as periods of exposure and erosion, contribute to growth location, grouping, shape, size, orientation, and internal structure. Several other research groups are exploring other important aspects including mineral precipitation mechanisms (Bouton et al., 2016; Pace et al., 2016), biogeochemistry/microbiology (Lindsay et al., 2016; Baxter, 2018), and possible age of formation and paleoenvironmental record (Newell et al., 2017; Vennin et al., 2019).
GSL is the remnant of Pleistocene (32-12 ka) Lake Bonneville, which covered 52,000 km2 of northwestern Utah as well as small parts of northeastern Nevada and southeastern Idaho (Gwynn, 1996). Lake Bonneville first retreated due to a catastrophic flood into the Snake River Plain, but then the changing climate (warmer and drier) further reduced its size, leaving behind present-day, hypersaline GSL. GSL averages 121 km long and 56 km wide, covering 4100 km2 , and fills the lowest depression in the terminal Bonneville basin (Fig. 1). The volume of water in the lake varies both annually and seasonally depending on catchment precipitation, whereas water loss is primarily due to evaporation (~3600 hm3 per year; Gwynn, 1996). GSL surface elevation has fluctuated nearly 6 m over recorded history (since 1847), with a long-term elevation average of ~1280 m (4200 ft) above mean sea level (Fig. 1, inset). GSL is shallow, maximum depth is ~10 m, and has broad lowgradient shorelines (Fig. 1). These shallow nearshore areas are favorable for microbialite formation but are also subject to exposure as lake levels fluctuate. In the late 1950s, a gravel-filled railroad causeway was constructed across the lake, isolating the north arm from the rest of the lake (Fig. 1). With none of the four major rivers entering the north arm, the salinity climbed to 24-26% (near halite saturation), whereas the salinity of the south arm is 12-14% and probably more representative of Holocene conditions. Post-Bonneville Holocene lake level fluctuations are poorly understood (Murchison, 1989), but measured lake level records reach back to 1847 (Fig. 1, inset). With some exceptions, it is generally assumed that Holocene (since ~12 ka) and historic lake level fluctuations were similar in magnitude and frequency, notwithstanding the anthropogenic influences that have contributed to the more recent low lake level (Wurtsbaugh, 2016). One exception may be the warm/dry period during the mid-Holocene Climatic Optimum (~8-6 ka), in which the lake might have dropped to 6 m below the historic average (Murchison, 1989; Steponaitis, 2015). Two previous decade long periods where lake levels receded below 1278.6 m (4195 ft), exposing the GSL microbialites, were initiated in 1935 and 1960 (Fig. 1, inset). Eardley (1938) provided the earliest definitive work on “algal bioherms” and associated deposits, including the importance of bacteria in their formation. Carozzi (1962) and Post (1980) described GSL “algal biostromes” and the precipitation of calcium carbonate by “blue-green algae,” and Halley (1976) investigated the textural variations within GSL “algal mounds.” As a result of the more recent low lake levels, Lindsay et al. (2016) researched the living microbial communities and their abilities to survive in a hypersaline environment, while Baskin (2014) attempted to characterize the lake-wide distribution and depth of GSL microbial “bioherms.” In addition, Chidsey et al. (2015) and Della Porta (2015) looked more closely at GSL microbialite characteristics and facies associations. Moreover, a possible older generation (~12 ka) of GSL microbialites are present at higher elevations (1281.7-1284.7 m, 4205-4215 ft; not further discussed). Examples include the well-lithified microbialites, with associated multimeter-scale travertine mounds, near Lakeside (Homewood et al., 2018) and the heavily eroded remnants of microbialites near Rozel Point (Chidsey et al., 2015).
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake will award the 2019 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship in the Graduate Division to Clint Carney, Ph.D. Student in Water Policy and Human Dimensions at the Quinney School of Natural Resources at Utah State University. Carney's proposal, Bringing Great Salt Lake into Utah's Water Reallocation Conversation, examines fundamental elements necessary for implementaion of a water bank system in Utah.
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake will award the 2019 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship in the Undergraduate Division to Chloe Fender of Westminster College. Fender's proposal, Snowmelt Contaminent Pulses in the Wasatch Mountains, seeks to determine locally relevant contaminants entering Great Salt Lake ecosystems via snowmelt.
The schlorships will be presented on May 15, 2019 from 6:30-8:30 at the Gore Auditorium at Westminster College. We hope you'll join us to congratulate Clint Carney and Chloe Fender and learn more about their vital research.
Special thanks to our 2019 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship judges for their thoughtful review of the applications. Thanks to our 2019 Doyle W. Stephens sponsors and donors, who make this scholarship possible.
Mark your calendars for these fun events coming up at Antelope Island State Park over the next few months! From astronomy to history to cycling, these are all great opportunities to visit Great Salt Lake and learn something new.
Full Moon Hike
Most people hike Antelope Island during the day but there are lots of critters out at night. Join the park naturalist for a hike by the full moon light and learn about the nocturnal wildlife of Antelope Island. Meet at the Dooley Knob (the same as Frary Peak) trailhead at 8:15 pm. We will be gaining about 800 feet of elevation in 1.5 miles. This hike is 3 miles total.
Fielding Garr Ranch Tours: "Life and Death at Fielding Garr Ranch"
Antelope Island was used for 133 years as ranch land. There are countless stories: happy, sad, and just plain weird. Walk the grounds with the Fielding Garr Ranch Manager at 11:00, 1:00, and 4:00 to hear some of the every day things and unusual events where they happened. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Month of May
Historic Preservation Month
To celebrate Historic Preservation Month, Fielding Garr Ranch will have a special Junior Ranger self guide--only available this month. Why is Fielding Garr Ranch worth preserving? Take on the role of a historian to analyze maps, look at pictures, read people's mail, and inspect buildings close-up to find out for yourself! Due to the number of people at the ranch for Cowboy Legends, this will not be available May 24-26. Only a limited number of guides will be printed. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antelope Island Classic State Championship Road Race
USA Cycling will be holding the 2019 State Championship road races through most of the day. Event set up and parking will take place within the Marina. The start/finish line will be set up about 2 miles south along the East Side/Ranch Road.
Park Impacts: No park roads or areas will be closed for this event. Expect heavy traffic and pedestrian use in the marina. Expect additional cyclists along park roads.
Join park staff and members of Ogden Astronomical Society for a public star party in White Rock Bay. Solar viewing begins at 6:00 pm followed by deep space viewing after dark. Telescopes are provided by members of the astronomical society and will be focused on several deep space objects such as nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. Please ensure all flashlights have red filters. No reservation required. Park entrance fees apply. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Mothers Day Activities
Come have 133 years worth of fun at Fielding Garr Ranch! We will have games, chores, and crafts that will take you from 1848 to 1981 in one trip. See how you do at rolling a hoop, put together a round of kick the can, and befriend your very own pet rock. Kids will get to make a special Mothers Day gift (but we won't ruin the surprise). For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antelope Island's famous cowboy poetry and western music gathering. Details and full schedule TBA. Presented by Friends of Antelope Island and Western Music Association. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Join park staff and members of Ogden Astronomical Society for a public star party in White Rock Bay. Solar viewing begins at 7:00 pm followed by deep space viewing after dark. Telescopes are provided by members of the astronomical society and will be focused on several deep space objects such as nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. Please ensure all flashlights have red filters. No reservation required. Park entrance fees apply. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join our FRIENDS at Great Salt Lake Audubon as they host the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards exhibit this May 28-June 11, 2019 at The City Library.
More than 8,000 photos were entered into the National Audubon 9th annual contest. Come to see the 12 exceptional winning photographs that evoke the splendor, resilience, and ingenuity of bird life; on display on the lower level of The City Library. Please join us for a series of events that support this unique show.
If you are a resident, trail user, auto-commuter, birder or other concerned citizen, please join us for an evening of discussion and idea-generation focused on protecting our beloved Legacy Parkway.
Despite significant effort put forth by Rep. Ballard, Sen. Weiler, co-sponsors, supporting municipalities, and organizational allies, HB 339 and SB 119 failed to pass out of their respective legislative committees and we were unable to get an extension to the Legacy Parkway Truck Ban during this session. The following links will take you to committee meeting recordings should you like to review the discussion:
SB 119 2/7/19 - https://bit.ly/2u3IOPx
HB 339 2/22/19 - https://bit.ly/2F7cIc9
and 2/25/19 - https://bit.ly/2HgjoH4
Rep. Ballard suggested we gather for a follow-up to our January 16 Community Meeting to discuss what happened during the session, what was learned, and what options we still have going forward. Most importantly we will have small group discussion time to hear from YOU–our residents, commuters and trail users–about your real concerns about how Legacy Parkway will change on January 1, 2020 when the ban on heavy trucks expires. Let's fill the room again!
One thing that Save Legacy Parkway committee members learned is that there are many opportunities for us to be informed and involved, and if state or local government does not do due diligence to protect and prepare residents for change, we need to speak up. We need commitments from leaders with regard to what action they will take to mitigate the negative impacts on communities and sensitive environmental areas around Legacy Parkway before January 1, 2020.
Complete our Next Steps Survey: https://bit.ly/2O0Jzlz
Sign our Petition: https://bit.ly/2F8WPBV
Your voice matters, please make every effort to attend.
Please join us on Friday, March 15th from 12:30-1:20 at Weber State University's Lindquist Hall LH Room 280 for the Great Salt Lake Science & Society Brown Bag Seminar Series, featuring Executive Director, Lynn de Freitas, who will speak on "The Great Salt Lake Geopolitical Landscape."
Bring a lunch and join us for weekly seminars from regional experts and a field trip to Great Salt Lake.
We partner with the Natural History Museum of Utah and University of Utah Youth Education to offer two exciting and adventurous summer camps based on the science and ecology of Great Salt Lake!
Ladies, the Great Salt Lake is ours to discover! With staff from FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake and the Natural History Museum of Utah, you’ll investigate the cool and unique ecosystem at the Great Salt Lake, from brine shrimp and owl pellets to buoyancy and pH levels! We’ll visit places like Antelope Island and Farmington Bay, conduct salty experiments, chew pickle weed, and watch birds through binoculars. We are investigators, adventurous, and love being outside. Drop off and pick up take place at NHMU. Transportation to field trip locations is provided.
This program is only for girls entering 4th and 5th grade in Fall 2019.
Camp runs June 10-14, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily. Campers should bring their own non–refrigerated lunch from home along with a drink. We offer a supervised lunch hour that includes time to explore outside. Campers will receive a reusable water bottle and a camp shirt with their camp registration fee.
Camp Cost: $310 (NHMU members may be eligible for a discount)
Registration is now open! Sign up here: https://bit.ly/2XQ8ywI
Stay salty this summer and in this field-based science camp! Whether it's investigating macroinvertebrates at Memory Grove Park or air boating on Farmington Bay, each day you'll go on a field trip to explore the ecosystems surrounding the Great Salt Lake. Along the way, engage in activities and conduct experiments to learn about watersheds, rock formations, salinity, native plants, insects, animals, and more. At the end of the week, you'll leave with an outdoor activity book and brine shrimp hatch kit to continue your field work at home! Co-sponsored with University of Utah Youth Education.
This camp is for both boys and girls ages 8-10 only.
Camp runs June 24-28, 2019 from 9am-3pm daily. Campers should bring their own lunch and water from home.
Camp Cost: $275
This camp is currently full. For more information, please contact Katie Newburn at email@example.com.
The Class V Provisions in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Act Should Not Be Deleted For the Following Reasons:
The Legislature required higher standards for Class V for good reason.
The law has been in place over three decades to prevent Utah from becoming the nation’s “dumping ground” for solid waste.
The Utah Legislature doesn’t enact laws to benefit a single company.
It’s prudent for the State and legislature to exercise oversight of inter-state commerce.
The existing law allows the Legislature to exercise oversight of inter-state commerce for non-Utah commercial solid waste, because:
Instead of creating new jobs it just moves them from one rural county to another.
The Needs Assessment recognizes the investment-backed expectations of rural communities with established Class V landfills
The current Promontory Point Landfill situation shows that the Legislature required higher standards for Class V for good reason.
The Legislature shouldn’t compensate for the poor decision-making of a company.
Changing the law would eliminate important environmental and health protections.
The risk reward to Utah is NOT worth it.
Click below to download these points in an easy to read chart:
We're hiring for our 2019 Environmental Education Assistant (AmeriCorps)!
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is seeking a part-time Environmental Education Assistant to complete 450 hours of work (an average of 20 hours/week) during a 6-7 month time period (April through October, 2019). The Environmental Education Assistant will play a key facilitation role within our 4th grade Lakeside Learning field trip program at Great Salt Lake and will support education and outreach projects as well as the organization's special events.
Lakeside Learning field trips take place Monday through Friday, between 8am and 2pm during the months of April, May, September, October at Antelope Island State Park and the Great Salt Lake Marina. The ideal candidate will be available during these hours with some flexibility.
Additional work will generally take place during business hours, Monday through Friday, although some evening and weekends may be required. Although this position will average 20 hours per week, the weekly time commitment will be variable, with some weeks requiring up to 40 hours. FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake’s central office is located in Salt Lake City.
The Environmental Education Assistant will:
AmeriCorps members receive the following benefits for this 450-hour position: $3,317 living stipend paid in even disbursements throughout the term of service, about $450 per month. Approximately $1,556.14 Education Award (given upon completion of service – this award can be used for future schooling or federal student loans).
How to Apply: Email a resume and cover letter to Katie Newburn at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than March 12, 2019.
Please note: Any offer of employment will be conditional, pending the candidate’s successful enrollment in Americorps/Utah Conservation Corps (UCC) and successful completion of a criminal background check. For more information about the UCC, visit www.usu.edu/ucc/
By Lee Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune
In November, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 carrying 223 passengers lifted off from Salt Lake City International Airport heading for Paris. But officials say six big tundra swans flew into it over the runway, crashing into its nose and engine covers.
No birds survived, and the airport’s chief says it was “a very, very close call” for the jumbo jet.
The birds “didn’t go straight into the engine, which is fortunate. Because at that elevation and that location, the potential for recovery is not great,” Bill Wyatt, executive director of the airport, told the Airport Advisory Board recently. The plane safely landed a few minutes later, and was grounded for inspection and repair.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported nearly 14,500 bird strikes nationally in 2017. Those numbers led the agency to propose drastically increasing the area where all major airports must work to keep wildlife away from planes, expanding it from two miles to five beyond airport boundaries.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune A Burrowing Owl rests on the fence surrounding the Salt Lake International Airport. The airport had 280 bird strikes in 2018. Most were minor, but overall they caused at least $674,892 in reported damage. There were 171 bird strikes with small song birds; 39 with waterfowl, 36 with raptors, 13 with bats and four with pigeons or doves. Another 17 strikes were with unknown types of birds.
The FAA may yank federal funding from airports and their sponsors — such as Salt Lake City — that do not do everything in their power to limit new developments that could attract birds and other wildlife, including denying building permits.
That proposed five-mile boundary includes much of Salt Lake City (to 1300 East on the east, plus all of its northwest quadrant out to the Kennecott tailings ponds).
Envision Utah has been contracted to carry out "public engagement" for the Utah Inland Port. The initial public open houses listed below are the first two scheduled.
Tuesday, February 19th | 6-8 p.m.
State Fairgrounds – Zions Building
155 N 1000 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Thursday, February 28th | 6-8 p.m.
Franklin Elementary School
1115 W 300 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
Please note that Envision Utah is being paid $100,000 for this work labelled "public engagement", but which is likely to be a PR initiative designed to sell the public on the Port.
There is also a survey that one can take. Go to https://www.utahinlandport.org/public-meetings.
Be aware that this survey is part of Envision Utah's efforts to sway the public. As Terry Marasco of Moms for Clean Air says:
1. It presents it as a done deal. You may want to comment that that is a questionable assumption
2. It mentions nothing of the rushed and non-transparent way it (the Inland Port) was rushed thru the 2018 legislature (last 45 minutes for the legislature to read the bill!), and what do you think about that..
3. It mentions nothing about the fact that the state took away a huge chunk of salt lake city/county and put it in state hands
4. It says nothing about the fact that perhaps $500M of school tax revenues will be removed from the SL school district
Hope to see you there.
A scientific paper, ""Using remote cameras to validate estimates of nest fate in shorebirds," by FRIEND, John Cavit, along with his student Kristen Ellis, and two other colleagues is one of three finalists for the best paper published in Ibis during 2018.
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is seeking to hire an Environmental Education Coordinator.
Title: Environmental Education Coordinator
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Status: Part-time, Year round
Compensation: $10-$12 hourly
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake (FRIENDS) was founded in 1994. The mission of FRIENDS is to preserve and protect Great Salt Lake ecosystems and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the Lake 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.
The Environmental Education Coordinator’s primary responsibility will be facilitating the 4th grade Lakeside Learning field trip program at Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake Marina State Park. This position will also participate in community outreach events, administrative duties, and other tasks as assigned by the Education and Outreach Director.
The Environmental Education Coordinator works with a diverse population of students, in groups of 25-50, in remote outdoor settings; it is essential that the Environmental Education Coordinator be comfortable working in various conditions (biting insects, salt, sand, rain, sun) outdoors and be adaptable in the case of inclement weather.
Lakeside Learning field trips take place Monday through Friday, between 8am and 2pm during the months of April, May, June, September, and October at Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake Marina State Park. Additional work will generally take place during business hours, Monday through Friday, although some evening and weekends may be required. Although this position will average 20-25 hours per week, the weekly time commitment will be variable.
The Environmental Education Coordinator will:
How to Apply:
Email a resume, cover letter, and 3 references to Holly Simonsen at email@example.com no later than Friday March 1, 2019.