Every year since 2003, FRIENDS awards the Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship ($1,000) to a graduate or undergraduate student engaged in new or ongoing research that focuses on Great Salt Lake and/or the Lake ecosystem or watershed.
The scholarship was established in memory of Dr. Doyle W. Stephens (1944-2000) who was a research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. As a contributor to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program that was initiated in 1996, Doyle’s work on Great Salt Lake brine shrimp ecology helped increase understanding about population dynamics of the shrimp in the Lake and factors affecting the structure and density of the population.
This year, the 2016 Doyle W. Stephens Award Ceremony will take place at the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum prior to the lunch break on Thursday, May 12th. Stay tuned for more details about the 2016 scholarship recipient.
2015 scholarship recipient, Chris Mansfield
Fee grew up in a small town in west Texas. One of his most vivid childhood memories were the clouds of dust that would blow up from the cultivated fields during the “little” dust bowl of the 1950s. One of his objectives has been to not let that happen again – on agricultural land or the exposed bed of the Great Salt Lake.
Fee’s high school graduation class numbered 10. What he enjoyed most in school was Vocational Agriculture and FFA. His goal was to become a high school vocational agriculture teacher. This dream lasted until his senior year in College. When he did his student teaching he learned that he was not cut out to be a high school teacher. Fortunately, while preparing to teach high school, he had taken several classes in rangeland management thinking that would be a good subject to include in vocational agriculture classes in west Texas. Making the transition from the BS in Vocational Agriculture Education to an MS in Rangeland Ecology was easy.
Fee says that during college he had some great teachers. A couple are fondly remembered because of their effort to help him succeed. Their engagement reignited his desire to teach, but at the college rather than high school level. He finished his MS, earned his PhD (at Utah State) and taught for several years before being enticed to serve as a Department Head. That led to several other administrative positions, the last being Dean of the College of Natural Resources at USU. In 2005, he stepped down as Dean. The last piece of paper he signed as Dean was appointing himself to a teaching position. He had decided that during the rest of his career that he would attempt to do for others what those outstanding college teachers had done for him – help every student graduate prepared to and wanting to make a difference in the management of natural resources.
Fee says he wants to bring to Friends of Great Salt Lake a message of joy and of hope – joy in what we have accomplished and hope to continue to make a positive difference in the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.
"Since 1883, the Alta Club has been the gathering place for Utah’s business, educational and political leaders. Originally modeled after the private club that flourished on the east and west costs in the late nineteenth century, the Alta Club has retained a traditional spirit while embracing the present. Located in the beautifully restored and historically significant Alta Club building in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, the Club will provide a unique experience of fine dining and a memorable experience.
Valet Service provided
The Friend of the Lake Award is given to an individual, organization, program or business performing outstanding work in education, research, advocacy and/or the arts to benefit Great Salt Lake.
There is a vibrant and active community of people working on behalf of the Lake. Their efforts help increase our understanding and awareness of our big salty neighbor which can lead to positive action for preservation of the ecosystem.
To recognize these talents and contributions, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake established this award to be presented at our Biennial Great Salt Lake Issues Forum.
Over the past 20 years, this public-private partnership represented by the Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, Utah State University and the University of Notre Dame has succeeded in developing a sustainable management model for this resource. The Brine Shrimp Population Model developed by Dr. Gary Belovsky, University of Notre Dame, is a model used to track the brine shrimp demographics and manage the fishery in order to maximize production and ensure a healthy ecosystem.
Our hats go off to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program (GSLEP) for its coordinated effort in providing a valuable tool for managing this resource.
Join us at the Thursday evening banquet at the Alta Club when the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program will be recognized with the 2016 Friend of the Lake Award.
The Issues Forum is held at the University of Utah Officers Club.
While our “block” of rooms is no longer in affect at the University Guest House, there are still plenty of room available at the $109 rate/night.
You can call the guest house at 1-801-587-1000 to reserve your room, please indicate that you are with the Issues Forum/FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake group.
UGH is located within a 5-10 minute walk of conference facilities.
This 180-room hotel on the historic Fort Douglas property features spectacular views of the Salt lake Valley and surrounding campus. Rooms have a single king or two queen-size beds, refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave, cable TV, iron & board, hair dryer, voicemail, and free wireless high speed Internet access. Amenities include free parking, free local phone calls, convenience store, fitness room, and laundry facilities. Your stay includes hot breakfast.
The hotel is located just 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City with direct service on TRAX light rail system. With close proximity to the city and the Wasatch Mountains, endless activities are available right out the front door of the University Guest House.
Reservation information coming soon.
I’m looking out my window at the recent and welcome 10” of valley snow, and thinking about the Lake. How will this winter water season affect a Lake that has been parched and hit with record low elevations? Whatever happens we know that important work must continue to ensure Great Salt Lake’s future. That’s why I’m writing.
Three times each year, FRIENDS asks for your support of our collective work to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.
We want to thank you for being there with us as a loyal supporter, and for your thoughtful generosity. And we can all be proud of the progress we’re making to protect this complex and unique ecosystem. Our accomplishments are far too many to include in this letter but our legacy programs are strong and effective in building more awareness and appreciation for our big, salty neighbor.
Our Board of Directors and staff have committed to match the first $8,280 donated to FRIENDS. We hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible gift this holiday season so that we can continue to carry the flag of Great Salt Lake to all corners of the watershed. If you’ve already given then thanks so much for your gift. If you want to give again or for the first time, you can do so at: https://fogsl.org/support/donate-online
In the rush of the holidays, it’s always important to remember the simple and basic things about our family, friends and quality of life. I hope Great Salt Lake is a part of that picture for you.
In Seasonal Saline,
Lynn de Freitas, Executive Director
"Great Salt Lake is a special place. There is nothing else like it. Do we really want to imagine a time when we have to say "I remember when there used to be a big salty lake out there?" Can we really be so disconnected from our landscape that we fail to act before it's too late? We must protect this resource, this place of life and reflection."
Janessa Edwards, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake Education and Outreach Director
Please check back soon for more info.
"To be sure, some of Great Salt Lake's decline is a natural consequence of a warming and drying climate. But much of the blame for the falling lake lies with us." Check out this amazing Salt Lake Tribune editorial article written by Weber State University Professor Eric C. Ewert.
“God, how I long to go out West again someday – to drive some blue highway in Nevada or Utah until there’s absolutely nothing around me, then stop the car, in the middle of the road, maybe, and get out and just stand there, where I can see the horizon in every direction, and smell the air, and feel the sun and listen to the silence of the desert. I have this idea that if I could do this, time might hold still for a second, and I would know, for just a moment, what it feels like to be here.”
-Tim Kreider, author of “We Learn Nothing” a collection of essays and cartoons.
Totally impulsive, on a sunny and freshly rain-washed morning, two-weeks into the annual Utah waterfowl hunt, my spouse and I went birding at Farmington Bay. Camouflage, hunters, boats, pick-ups, dogs, and decoys provided ample on the ground evidence that the hunt was in progress. It’s one of the many seasonal dances at the Lake that simply comes with the territory. And yet, even with this buzz of enthusiasm and recreation, the Lake was still “ours”. We spotted several species of grebes and ducks, American White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Marsh Wrens, Canada Geese, Northern Harriers, Killdeer, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, California Gulls, Dowitchers, and a solitary muskrat. Not bad for being impulsive.
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area is a popular and accessible birding, bicycling, and seasonal hunting area along the eastern shore of Great Salt Lake. Just take the Farmington/Glover Lane exit on I-15 in Davis County. It’s one of eight Waterfowl Management Areas (WMA) located on and around the Lake that comprise nearly 90,000 acres of public conservation properties that belong to the people of Utah. You can drive or cycle around the dikes like we did, or visit the Great Salt Lake Nature Center – soon to become a state of the art visitor/education facility, and meander along the walking trail.
Managed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), the function of these WMA’s is to maximize habitat values for a range of waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors during migration and nesting seasons. The Great Salt Lake, its wetlands, open water, shoreline, and island habitats is an important aquatic ecosystem; locally, in North America, and within the Western Hemisphere. “It’s an international hub that connects migratory bird flyways of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds and their allies as they wing their way from one point of life to another.” That’s Don Paul, Chair of Utah Linking Communities. Linking Communities is a hemispheric partnership to protect range - wide migratory bird species and their habitats. The Lake provides critical habitat for over 260 species of birds – many of which are globally significant in their numbers and rely on the Lake for resting, staging and nesting.
The Lake is also one of the most important waterfowl breeding areas remaining in the U.S. with an annual waterfowl use that exceeds 3 million birds that includes 35 species. That’s about 30% of all waterfowl in the Pacific and Central Flyway. The Lake and these WMA’s provide them and us with a unique refuge of solitude and engagement. And that’s why we were here.
Waterfowling – a term I’ve learned in my work for the Lake – is a deep tradition in our Utah culture that has endured for over a century. Of course, native peoples who lived near the Lake before white men arrived took advantage of the seasonal bounties of waterbirds as well. Personal journals and archives from the 20 private duck clubs that are located along the fringes of the lakescape, not to mention the duck hunting airboaters, reveal a rich family tradition of hunting ducks, geese and swans at the Lake and nearby tributaries for generations. A tradition that’s consistent with a cultural dynamic throughout the West that appeals to the love of nature and place.
Waterfowlers have an innate understanding about the dynamics of the Lake, and are among the strongest advocates for its protection. A study was conducted in 2011 by Duffield, J., C. Neber, and D. Patterson (Bioeconomics, Inc.). – “Utah Waterfowl Hunting: 2011 Hunter Survey, Hunter Attitudes and Economic Benefits. The study showed that the estimated economic impact in the Salt Lake City area of waterfowl - hunting related expenditures generates $97M and 1,600 full time jobs. Dollar values are an important part of the picture. But dollar values are only one part of the picture. Great Salt Lake is who we are, where we are, and how we are in this place that is a part of all of us. And it matters. We’re such lucky ducks.
Not to be overlooked in this notable mix of wetland management areas that serve to fulfill our stewardship responsibility for this wildlife endowment of the Lake is the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Established in 1928, the refuge is approximately 74,000 acres and is owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Located off the Forest Street exit on I-15 in Brigham City, the refuge is a key contributor to this bird rich picture. It’s connected to Bear River Bay - designated an Important Bird Area by National Audubon.
“Of all the important aquatic bird environments on the Lake, the Bear River Bay is the sweetest spot for diversity and numbers of birds during long-term average Lake elevation periods.” Don Paul.
Long-term average Lake elevation periods is worth repeating because today, the current elevation of Great Salt Lake is 4,192.5’ - only 1.5’ above the 1963 record low of 4,191’. Water in the bays plays a huge part in the number of waterfowl that come through and stay at the Lake. According to Blair Stringham, Utah Waterfowl Coordinator with DWR, it’s not uncommon to see around 500,000 birds in the WMA’s in September. When the three bays (Bear River, Farmington and Gilbert Bay) have good water, it’s not unusual to have hundreds of thousands there too. Right now, in Bear River Bay there are probably 300,000 Green-winged Teal near Promontory. But when compared to the hunt last year at this time, the bird numbers are down. The low Lake level is likely a key factor.
At the Great Salt Lake Technical Team meeting last August, a presentation about the proposed Bear River Water Development Project was made by the Utah Division of Water Resources (DWRe) and consultants from Bowen Collins & Associates. The genesis of this project comes from the 1958 Bear River Compact amended in 1980 that allocates water from the Bear among Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Through the Bear River Development Act 1991 –DWRe is authorized to develop the surface waters of the Bear and its tributaries to the tune of 220,000 acre feet annually to address the projected water needs of Utah’s growing population by 2060.
The Bear River is the source of 60% of Great Salt Lake’s surface water inflows. A water development proposal of this magnitude would certainly impact the Lake and the range of ecosystem services it provides. We already know about the wildlife and the critical habitat needs that would be at stake but so would mineral extraction, the brine shrimp industry, and recreation and tourism that themselves contribute $1.3B annually, and 7,700 full time jobs to Utah’s economy.
The Bear River Water Development Project is extremely controversial for a variety of reasons. The rationale for building it is weak. It would be a huge burden on Utah taxpayers to construct. Impacts to the Lake’s ecosystem services aren’t even considered. And the modeling and projected water needs to justify the proposal are based on a 1990’s water picture that doesn’t reflect our changing climate or drought cycles.
A Legislative Audit to determine the reliability of DWRe’s data and assess the accuracy of its projections of water demand and supply was released in May 2015. The audit lists a passel of things that need to be addressed to provide a more accurate picture of Utah’s water supply and needs. It also indicates that any shortfall in the water supply by 2060 could be filled from current sources with agricultural water conversions and more efficient water use. The audit is available at: http://fogsl.org/advocacy
So here we are at the Lake watching some hunters unloading their boat after being out on the water since before dawn. I asked them how they did. Along with a tired smile, one of the hunters said, “It was good. We got two cinnamon teals and a chance to catch up.”
Savor it. Recognize it. Talk about it. Protect it.
What you can do: Visit www.fogsl.org and visit Great Salt Lake
Air quality advocates are expressing their appreciation this week for the recent news that Kennecott Copper has abandoned its plans to construct a new rock crusher plant as part of the mine's overall expansion effort.