Monday, 17 April 2017 09:18

Art Exhibit Announcement


Great Salt Lake artist, Rosalie Winard's work, "Birds Don't Pay Taxes" (photography and video), will be shown along with work from Laura Hope Mason and Barbara Ellard at Finch Lane Gallery. 

Opening Reception and Gallery Stroll on Friday, April 21, 6:00-9:00 pm

Rosalie Winard's Gallery Talk on Friday, May 19 at 6:00 pm


Exhibit Announcement 2017 May email

Enjoy this video of Great Salt Lake's migratory phalaropes: Click Here

Wednesday, 29 March 2017 19:40

Love Utah Give Utah 2017!

Or as we like to call it... Love Great Salt Lake, GIVE GREAT SALT LAKE

Invest in the future of our local natural resources!

When you donate to FRIENDS, you're supporting our Lakeside Learning Field Trip Program! This program gets students out of the classroom and into the brine.

We believe in the power of science and in educating a new generation of environmentally engaged learners!

Great Salt Lake is our classroom as we explore ways to help young learners make connections in the natural world.

The money raised through this campaign goes directly towards bus grants for schools, field trip supplies, and state park entry fees!

Click here to donate today!

Executive Director’s Message – Winter 2017

Great Salt Lake – A Body of Work that Must be Included in our Vision for Utah’s Water Future

“Show up. Dive in. Stay at it!”

-The 44th President of the United States - Barack Obama in his final address to the American people –January 10, 2017.

Nice snow. Nice rain too. As of February 1, 2017, snowpack in most of the 15 watershed basins around the state has exceeded what would normally constitute early April peak accumulations. According to the Utah Water Supply Outlook Report that’s published each month by the National Weather and Climate Center, the succession of snowstorms from Christmas through early January translated into these impressive results. At that time, the snowpack was ranging from approximately125% to 160% of normal. Currently, many of these watersheds are running “between 160% - 220% of normal - an increase of 25% - 65% over what was already a good situation.” When compared with last year, conditions look promising for soil moisture levels, reservoir storage and stream-flow. However, based on the status quo, if this trend continues it’s likely that spring runoff conditions could be dicey.

The National Weather and Climate Center is part of the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Using data generated by SNOTEL (Snow Telemetry), the reports provide timely updates on snow and precipitation levels around the state so that all of us can have a sense of how the second most arid state in the nation is doing as far as water that’s falling from the sky.

But what’s disappointing about the report is that Great Salt Lake is not accounted for in this important picture. In fact, in the maps of Statewide Precipitation, and Statewide Snow Water Equivalent our Lake isn’t even labeled on the landscape. For a terminal lake that’s located at the bottom of a 22, 000 sq. mi hydrologic drainage basin and relies heavily on precipitation and inflows from upstream water sources – the Bear, Weber/Ogden and Jordan Rivers, surely it’s an oversight that nothing is mentioned about it in the context of Utah’s water picture. This doesn’t bode well for a system that generates $1.3B annually for the state and regional economies. And it doesn’t bode well for this unique hemispheric oasis for resident populations of wildlife and for millions of migratory birds that rely on its diversity of habitats and protein rich food sources for resting, staging and nesting.

It’s common knowledge that in 2016, Great Salt Lake hit record low lake elevations. This is because climate change also known as the climate regime continues to create drought cycles and higher temperatures that hasten snowpack meltdown, changes snow to rain and increases evaporation. Exacerbated by upstream diversions that prevent critical inflows into the system, as the Lake’s surface area begins to shrink the lakebed is exposed to winds that create dust events. This dust contributes to already problematic air quality conditions along the Wasatch Front. That’s why in the revision of the September 2016 Draft of the Governor’s 50 -Year State Water Strategy (draft strategy) that’s currently underway - it’s imperative that responsible recommendations that address Great Salt Lake’s water future are incorporated.

Draft strategy? What draft strategy?

With an eye on the projected doubling of Utah’s population by 2060 and how to reconcile this with managing the state’s water resources, in 2013 Governor Herbert initiated a 50-Year State Water Strategy. The strategy is supposed to “define priorities, inform water policy, and chart a path to maintaining and constructing needed infrastructure without breaking the bank or drying up our streams.” And it’s supposed to include “extensive public input to guide the process.” Kudos to the Governor for providing us with continuing opportunities to reckon with Utah’s water future and to exercise our commitment to effectively plan for it.

Using momentum from former Governor Leavitt’s water conservation goal to reduce municipal and industrial (M&I) use by 25% by 2050, Herbert upped the ante to achieve the reduction by 2025. Right now, we’ve reached 18% and that’s commendable but we can’t stop at 2025. When you think about it, in-home water use constitutes only 4% of all the water we use. So if we continue to be judicious in our water conservation practices – and that should include industrial uses too - we should be able to provide water to twice as many people with our existing supplies and without developing new sources – climate change aside. Holding to this standard continues to make room for our natural systems that need protection and have a direct effect on our quality of life.

Just as education has changed our behavior about littering and wearing seatbelts, we’ve got to continue practicing good water conservation measures because we simply can’t afford to be profligate with this precious resource. If we’re going to be honest about Utah’s water future, we have to begin by shaking up the basic assumptions we have about our relationship with water and its utility, and perhaps even our assumptions about growth in the second driest state in the country.

Work on developing the 50-Year State Water Strategy began in the summer of 2013 with a series of 8 statewide scoping meetings. The “listening sessions” provided an opportunity for citizens to express their ideas about Utah’s water future and ways to address water challenges. The meetings were hosted by a task force of six people involved in Utah’s water world – two water conservancy districts, a former director of the Division of Water Resources, a former State Engineer, a representative from Farmland Reserve, Inc, and Trout Unlimited. Discussions included recreation and the environment, climate change, population growth, water law, water for agriculture, delivery and efficiency, competing interests, and funding water infrastructure. With the addition of online comments an impressive amount of input was gathered and summarized in a series of white papers presented to the Governor that fall. You can review the comments and hear recordings of the sessions by visiting

At the same time, a State Water Strategy Advisory Team representing a range of interests and expertise from around the state that included water conservancy districts, academics, conservationists, attorneys, planners, government agencies, politicos and FRIENDS was appointed by Governor Herbert.

The Advisory Team would work through an Envision Utah (EU) modeling process to “identify Utah’s choices related to water, create 5 water scenarios for the EU 2050 Your Utah Your Future visioning process scheduled for roll out in April 2015, participate in the process, and provide the Governor with a Draft 50-Year State Water Strategy on which he and other policymakers could build a vision and framework for water issues going forward.”

From 2013 - 2015+ under the direction of Envision Utah facilitators assisted by 3 co-chairs involved in the statewide listening sessions, the Advisory Team was “guided” through discussions intended to shape the water scenarios. Unfortunately, this facilitated exercise limited our ability to delve fully and more objectively into provocative and pithy aspects of the future of our water resources such as questioning baseline assumptions with a bias toward structural supply enhanced solutions. And it also limited the scope of the scenarios on offer for the public to consider as a water vision for the future. As a result, we weren’t able to address important matters such as-

  • Currency of data on projected water use
  • Water pricing and secondary metering – how much water can be saved indoors and outdoors?
  • Teasing out more of the fabric of what the prior appropriation doctrine consists of to make room for exercising the public welfare and increase incentives for conservation uses
  • Taking proactive steps to modernize Utah water law while improving transparency and opportunities for public involvement
  • Costly and controversial new infrastructure projects with significant environmental externalities
  • Impacts from climate change on flows from the Colorado River
  • Best practices in other states with water strategies, models and tools that are working
  • Critical policy decisions that lie ahead
  • & The future of Great Salt Lake

I could go on but the point is that none of these things were adequately discussed which created great frustration for many of us who are sincerely committed to the effort and hoping for a sea change in our usual water ethic. Alas.

Fast forward to September 13, 2016 when the Advisory Team was called back together after a hiatus of almost 20 months to review the September 2016 Draft of the Governor’s 50-Year State Water Strategy A draft strategy that would ONLY invite comments from the Advisory Team and who would ONLY have 3 weeks to provide them. It wasn’t pretty. The public protested as did many members of the Advisory Team. The deadline for comments was extended and the public was invited to participate. Fast forward to February 2017.

Although the work continues on revising the draft strategy the process has changed. The co-chairs have given us a long rein to “create a worthwhile outcome from this long undertaking and write the ending to this story as you see fit.” And we’ve taken this to heart. Without facilitation, we’ve self -selected to work in small groups that meet at different times and at different venues. As we focus on the 12 key policy questions that comprise the draft strategy, our discussions are more open, engaging and energetic as we address the task before us. Our collective goal is to produce a meaningful tool that’s durable and has integrity. Perhaps we can be the first step in a new era in water policy. We’ll have to see.

As Joanna Endter-Wada, Associate Professor in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University, and Advisory Team cohort said as we were working on the draft revision, “We’re talking about the need to be nimble and adaptive, practical and proactive in our approach. And we need to evaluate the future of water planning and its relevance to land use planning and economic planning so that it’s cohesive and resilient in the scheme of sustainability thinking for Utah’s population and our precious natural systems that includes Great Salt Lake.

I’m inspired.

In saline,


The Alfred Lambourne Prize is open for submissions in four artistic categories: visual art, literary art, sound, and movement. Submit here between March 1 and May 15. 

In 2014, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake established The Alfred Lambourne Prize, an annual recognition and celebration of regional creativity inspired by our Inland Sea. 

Prizes of $400 will be awarded to winners in each category during a gallery reception at the Sorenson Unity Center on September 8, 2017. 



Friday, 06 January 2017 10:15

New Year Update from Urmia Lake

Dear Friends

On behalf of Urmia Lake Restoration Program, I wish you and your dears a very happy new year. Hope you have a great time ahead. The following greetings card is the photo of Flamingos in Urmia Lake.



I would like to use this opportunity to update you on Urmia Lake Restoration Program (ULRP)

You know that Urmia Lake located in north west of Iran is drying for last two decades because of climate change, improper water use especially in agriculture sector and damming the supplying rivers. It lost almost 90% of the of the area and water. The winter migrant Flamingos and White Pelicans are not coming to the lake because of dryness and hyper salinity. It reached above 500 gr/lit, which was 200 gr/lit originally. The dried bed of the lake contains almost 10 billion tones of salt, which can be carried over by wind to the farms and towns up to 500 km.  

The government of Iran took initiative in 2014 and developed a 10-year program named ULRP to save the lake. Fortunately, the program is working very well and could increase water level by 30 cm comparing to the last year, 22 Dec. 2015. The following chart shows the fluctuation of water level of the lake during last for years. It would better to mention that the deepest part of the lake is 2 meter at the present, which was 16 meter before desiccation.


The restoration of Urmia Lake is very complicated and needs technical support of world scientists and success stories of the other countries. 

It will be highly appreciated if you support us to save our lake by sharing your valuable experiences to bring Pelicans and Flamingos back to Urmia Lake.

I would like to invite you to see video clip on Urmia Lake


Best Regards,

Hossein Shahbaz 

International Cooperation Division

Urmia Lake Restoration Program



Seasons Greetings to you Hossein,

Thank you for your kind regards and for the update on Lake Urmia, which is certainly a very positive update. This of course adds to our sense of happiness for the coming New Year and for the future of our sister saline system so thank you twice. ( - :

It’s certainly fortuitous that the government of Iran took the initiative to address the great needs of Urmia and to say the least, the results that have occurred since 2014 - such a short time - are very impressive. Have you been experiencing significant moisture that has contributed to this condition? Lucky you. And lucky Lake. Please share what has contributed to this improvement.

In the meantime, although Great Salt Lake is still struggling here in Utah the current elevation in the south arm of Great Salt Lake is 4,192.3’ which is certainly a welcome change from our prolonged historic low elevations 4.191’ and below, but time will tell how this improvement perpetuates. On Christmas eve and day we received at least 6” of snow in the Salt Lake valley with significant accumulations (2’ +/- in the mountains. This is exactly the kind of weather cycle that we all hope for this time of year, and with any luck, it will continue through the spring and translate into welcome runoff.   

In the meantime, on behalf of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous New Year with good health, good friends and good things for Lake Urmia.

In seasonal saline,

Lynn de Freitas

Executive Director

FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake

Click here for the online application

The deadline to apply is March 17, 2017


FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake (FoGSL) is seeking applicants for the 2017 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship provides support to undergraduate or graduate students engaged in new or on-going research.

This $1,000 scholarship provides support to undergraduate or graduate students engaged in new or on-going research that focuses on Great Salt Lake and/or the lake ecosystem or watershed. We will consider research projects from any academic field (for instance: ecology, biology, chemistry, physics, geography, geology, urban planning, social sciences, communications, education, economics, tourism, engineering, etc.). The scholarship may also be used to support research internships.


Wednesday, 07 December 2016 09:18

Great Salt Lake Causeway Breach

The new Great Salt Lake breach was opened on Dec. 1 by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. This created a new opening between the north and the south arm of the Lake, allowing water to flow between the two sides.

We are still getting lots of pictures and videos of the breach and we will be posting them here,

Tuesday, 06 December 2016 15:40

New Breach Allows Flow on Great Salt Lake

The new Great Salt Lake breach was opened on Dec. 1 by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. This created a new opening between the north and the south arm of the Lake, allowing water to flow between the two sides.

This time-lapse video shows the breach opening, which took about two hours.

Before the new breach was opened, the north arm of Great Salt Lake was at a historic low. Water had stopped flowing through the old Great Salt Lake causeway breach, preventing water travel between the southern and northern portions. Water levels in the south arm were approximately 3.3 feet higher than the north arm when the breach was opened.

The USGS is monitoring discharge through the new breach in cooperation with Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

The USGS provides real-time lake elevation readings for both the north arm ( and south arm ( of Great Salt Lake. These gauging stations will be a valuable resource to observe the water level changes as the two portions of the lake combine and even out.

The USGS maintains a record of Great Salt Lake elevations dating back to 1847 and has continuously measured the elevation of the lake since 1938.


 Thank you to Dr. Wayne Wurtsbaugh for these images. You can see more images of the breach here!

GSL Breach Opening 1697

The Breach looking northward into Gunnison Bay

GSL Breach Opening 1707

Strong flow into Gunnison Bay

GSL Breach Opening 1737

Langmuir Circulation cells (parallel streaks) and foam on Gunnison.  Each stream is probably separated from the next by 10-15'


GSL Breach Opening 1745

Gunnison "Island", with Compass Mineral dike and ponds in background

GSL Breach Opening 1701 


Why We Care

  • Great Salt Lake, the second most hypersaline Inland Sea in the world, has a fate of becoming even more salty with permanent loss of a large portion of its Bear River fresh water life supply.

    Precious fresh water diverted to support more of the same, the endless expansion of the human race, big box stores, and shopping centers duplicated around the country ruining any future adventure of small town exploration and road trips.

    Everything is becoming the same. Everyone is looking the same. Everyone does the same things. Great Salt Lake is unique and the planet is loosing it as its life blood is stolen from its soft salty shores, waves gently breaking further and further out, leaving vast arrays of dry barren mudflats waiting for phragmites to invade.

    Utah does not own Great Salt Lake. Great Salt Lake is owned by the world.

    Karri Smith, Alfred Lambourne Prize Participant