Monday, 23 February 2015 00:00

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival May 14-18, 2015 Farmington, Utah
The 2015 Great Salt Lake Bird Festival promises another fantastic program of field trips, workshops, and family events. And the icing on the cake for our 17th annual Festival is Keynote Speaker David Allen Sibley.
Festival attendees have several incredible opportunities to interact with Sibley, America's most gifted contemporary painter of birds, and the author and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds(2nd edition released in 2014). Sibley will offer a workshop at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 15, followed by a book signing. He will also co-lead two field trips on Saturday, May 16, and conclude the day as the keynote speaker at the Festival’s Dutch Oven Dinner.
Dinner tickets to hear David Allen Sibley are on sale now at; just click the “Register Now” button.

Be sure to check back again starting at 9 a.m. MST on March 2 for all field trip registration. Many trips fill up fast—so log in early to get your preferred spots.
As always, the Festival offers a full slate of family activities on Friday evening and all day on Saturday. The “Birding Is for Families” theme is carried out in the first workshop on Saturday morning, offered by author and birder Bill Fenimore. Saturday workshops are free and feature many live birds.
Another great feature of the Festival is the annual Student Art Contest. The contest is open to Utah students in pre-school through 12th grade. In recent years, the festival has received several hundred exceptional entries from students all over the state. All student art is on exhibit at the Festival from 12–7 p.m. on Friday, May 15, and from 10 a.m. –6 p.m. on Saturday, May 16.  Art Contest information and entry form is on the web site.  Entries are due May 4, 2015.
The Festival hosts a vendor fair on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. Interested vendors—both businesses and non-profit organizations—should fill out the vendor application found online at
Registration for field trips for the 2015 Festival begins on-line March 2, 2015

Vendor applications accepted through April 30, 2015. Program listing is on-line and program booklets can be picked up at the Davis County Administration Building Room 304, 61 S. Main Farmington, Wild About Birds Nature Center/Layton, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, or Feed the Birds/Bountiful.

Scientists say Union Pacific causeway must be breached to protect ecosystem, brine industries.

What do you think? 

Read the full article here

Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00

Great Salt Lake at near-record low level

A very informative article with lots of great contributors, including our Executive Director Lynn de Freitas.


Click here for the full Salt Lake Tribune article.

FRIENDS is proud to present the 2018 Friend of the Lake award to Steven E. Clyde 

Steven E. Clyde, ClydeSnow, is recognized with this award for initiating a timely and important conversation about how we can bring water to Great Salt Lake. In a room filled with attorneys and water-purveyors at the October 2016 Utah Water Law Conference in Salt Lake City, Clyde delivered his white paper, Water Rights for Great Salt Lake -- is it the Impossible Dream? He argued that the Lake has a range of ecosystem services and values that must be honored; and that in the context of Utah water law, there are viable tools for bringing water to the Lake to sustain these values and to fulfill our stewardship responsbility for this unique and complex system. 

Throughout his career, Mr. Clyde has specialized in natural resources law, including oil and gas, public land law, and mining law, with a primary emphasis in water law. Mr. Clyde has represented many clients in the buying and selling of water rights and in the conversion of water rights from agricultural irrigation use to domestic, municipal, and industrial use for development of real property, particularly in the resort areas of Summit County, Utah. He has represented parties in the negotiations of a Lease of Power Privilege on Bureau of Reclamation Facilities for the Central Utah Project and in the negotiation of power sales contracts from the hydroelectric facilities constructed under the lease. He is general counsel to the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the sponsor of the Central Utah Project, and is knowledgeable regarding federal reclamation law.

Steven E. Clyde was recognized with the 2018 Friend of the Lake Award at the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum Banquet. Thank you, Steve, for being a champion for the Lake.                         

Friend of the Lake Award Recipients

The Friend of the Lake Award is given to a person, organization, 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. Understanding can lead to positive action for preservation of Great Salt Lake. To recognize these talents and contributions, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake established an award to be presented at our Biennial Great Salt Lake Issues Forum.

2002 – The first award was presented to the late Dr. Donald R. Currey, geomorphologist in the Geography Department at the University of Utah. Dr. Currey worked to raise awareness about the unique geomorphological features that surround Great Salt Lake, their importance as archives of the past, and why they should be protected.

2004 - Joy Emory is an environmental engineer representing FRIENDS on the Kennecott South End Technical Advisory Committee as part of the CERCLA process. Her understanding of extremely complex surface and ground water dynamics as it pertains to the remediation of mining contamination helped FRIENDS participate more fully in this important process.

2006 - Al Trout is the retired manager of the USFWS Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City, Utah. Al worked tirelessly with the community and volunteers to restore the Refuge after the high water years of the 1980’s. He continues to be an arch advocate for Great Salt Lake preservation and protection.

2008 – There were two recipients this year -  a doctor and an attorney. It’s important for the Lake to have both. Dr. Maunsel Pearce, Chair of the GSL Alliance and Joro Walker, Senior Attorney at Western Resources Advocates. Dr. Pearce has always been there for the Lake – advocating for better management, stronger protection and greater recognition of this hemispherically important ecosystem.

Just like good science, good legal insight can strengthen the work FRIENDS is trying to do for the Lake. Joro has been instrumental in providing legal support to help advance timely and responsible results for the Lake.

2010 – Don Paul is president of AvianWest, Inc, a bird and habitat conservation business. He is a career wildlife biologist having served 34 years in several positions for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and four years as the Great Basin Bird Conservation Region Coordinator. His career emphasis takes two directions, conservation biology with emphases in international community conservation linkages and avian conservation with experience in large-scale landscape bird monitoring.

2012 – Charles Uibel, ( has an incredible photographic eye. He has been to just about every place a person can go around the Lake, capturing its beauty in such a magical way that the viewer is awed. His photographs are a constant reminder of the power and the importance of Great Salt Lake in our lives.

2014 – Hikmet Sidney Loe teaches art history at Westminster College in   Salt Lake City. Her research on Robert Smithson’s earthwork the Spiral Jetty has led to her cumulative work, The Spiral Jetty Encyclo: Exploring Robert Smithson’s Earthwork through Time and Place (forthcoming, as are several book chapters on the earthwork). She contributes regularly to the online magazine 15 Bytes ( and has essays included in the online Exhibition catalog essays were commissioned of Loe in 2013 for Utah Biennial: Mondo Utah (Utah Museum of Contemporary Art) and Plurality: Frank McEntire in Retrospect (Snow College University), and in 2014 for No One Site (The Leonardo and the School of Architecture, University of Utah). She has curated exhibitions at Westminster College, Finch Lane Gallery (Art Barn), and The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York; lectures frequently; and exhibits photographs related to the land.

2016 – At the the 2016 Great Salt Lake Issues Forum, FRIENDS honored the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program (GSLEP) with this award for its collaborative due diligence in studying artemia franciscana – Great Salt Lake brine shrimp. 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.


A Measure of Salt: Contemporary Artists Engaging Great Salt Lake is a group exhibition of twenty artists from Salt Lake City, New York City, and Los Angeles, each of who finds artistic inspiration in the salt of Utah’s inland sea.

The lake, no matter where one lives in the state of Utah, is a defining geographical feature, born of the much larger ancient Lake Bonneville. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the state’s history, industries, then in the course of time - art – have found commonality in this mineral.

The exhibit opens Febuary 13th and runs through May 23rd at the Granary Art Center.


Click here for complete details on this great event!

Using lake water for mineral extraction is just one of the threats Great Salt Lake faces year after year.


This report by Dr. Johnnie Moore details impacts from mineral extraction water withdrawals on the Lake when elevations are low.


To read the full report, Preliminary Assessment of the Effects of Withdrawing Water for Mineral Extraction on the Levels of Great Salt Lake at Historic Low Levels, download the PDF attachement below.

Thanks to our FRIENDS for helping preserve and protect Great Salt Lake


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Donations in Memory of Don R. Mabey
March 29, 1927- October 10, 2015
Served on FRIENDS' Board of Directors 1998-2000
Genevieve Atwood
Jim Gremillion
Pam Gremillion
Mike Wilson
Snow, Christensen and Martineau Lawyers
Clark P. Giles
Pam and Willy Littig
The Ronald Willden Living Trust
Ann Floor
Julia Reid and Jim Lunbeck
Paul Jewell
Chris and Sydney Fonnesbeck
Alisa and Ian Schofield
J. Emerson Mabey Family
Michael and Galen Weiser


On January 7, 2015, DWQ received the antidegradation (ADR) and a revised Comprehensive Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (CMMP) from UPRR. 

DWQ intends to request public comments through the Public Notice process from January 21, 2015, through February 20, 2015, on the Cert.  DWQ may alter the Cert decision-to-issue or conditions within based on information received during the public comment period. 

In order to ensure the completion of the bridge structure in 2015 construction season, UPRR has requested the Cert by March 2, 2015.

For a complete update and to view documents under review, including the ADR and CMMP, please see the DEQ website here.

Lake elevation on 11/12/2014 – 4,193.3’ asl

“We need holistic, collaborative and comprehensive water policy to protect our valued resources while facilitating smart growth.”

-Joe Havasi, Director, Natural Resources Compass Minerals

On October 23rd, FRIENDS celebrated 20 years of our collective work to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem and its future. It was also an opportunity for all of us to renew our commitment as a community to continue this work in honor of an ecosystem that not only encompasses a significant and unique hemispheric value for millions of migratory birds, but is also generous through its extraordinary economic attributes to the people of Utah as a Public Trust.

We live along the shores of something GREAT – Great Salt Lake.

And whether we perceive it or not

During its relatively short life as a remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville

It has affected all of us.

From the ancients who lived in the Great Salt Lake wetlands

To the growing populations of today and tomorrow

The Lake affect continues to modify, influence and impress our lives

And the lives of millions of migratory birds and critters that rely on it.

From our “Call to Binoculars” in 1994, to our “Call for a Conservation Pool for the Lake” in 2010, we’ve definitely made a difference.  We’ve made tremendous strides forward in building awareness and appreciation of the Lake. We’ve created valuable tools and shaped important policies to address water quality protection. And we’re even getting a better handle on the “balancing act” of resource development while maintaining the ecological integrity of the system.

But we have to do more.

As a terminal lake that lies at the bottom of a 35,000 square mile drainage basin that has a growing population upstream in its watershed, the Lake is a mirror of who we are and how we behave. It’s a system that is heavily dependent upon inflows from snowpack, rivers and streams that will either “live or die” unless we make sure that it has enough water to perpetuate its impressive array of ecosystem services.

That’s why we focused our 2010 Great Salt Lake Issues Forum on the topic of establishing a conservation pool for the Lake. Knowing what we know about projected population growth, increased water diversions, water quality, predicted trends in climate change, increased industrialization on the Lake, and the sad fate of many other sister saline systems around the planet, these factors confirm that there is no time to waste. It’s a frightening prospect for water buffalos, upstream water rights holders, and even industry to agree that we should accommodate a fixed water elevation for the Lake. An elevation that not only raises all boats but keeps the ecological engine humming. But it’s the right thing to do.

To wit –the lowest recorded level on Great Salt Lake since 1850 was 4,191’ in 1963.  Currently, the Lake level is 4193.3’ - a mere 2.3’ above the record low. As a consequence, 70% of all boats in the Great Salt Lake Marina at the south shore are landlocked. Gunnison Island, which is a protected island and rookery for the 3rd largest breeding population of American White Pelicans in North America is no longer an island. It has a land bridge for easy predator access to this usually remote location. And Morton Salt has recently filed a request with the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands- that oversees jurisdictional management for all sovereign lands including Great Salt Lake- to extend its existing intake canal by 6,800’ into the open water of Gilbert Bay, and deepen it by 10’. The Lake level is too low to maintain production of its signature salt and it wants to keep its 150 employees working. The trajectory of this canal would go right through a productive biostrome field which is an integral part of the food web for migratory birds. The list of impacts goes on while more straws are queuing up to make the same request.

How and when will we recognize our reality with Lake level?

A recent study by the US Geological Survey indicated that Utah’s average water use is the highest in the nation. For many years, Utah was second to Nevada but between 2005 – 2010, Nevada decreased its water use and Utah has become number one with a consumption level of 250 gallons of water use/person/day. (Lots of work to do here.) This recognition coupled with the Division of Water Resources’ perceived water needs by 2060 to serve a doubling population is driving the legislature, water conservancy districts, and land interests to justify sinking billions of taxpayer dollars into water development projects around the state. One of these projects includes developing the Bear River. When the Division and its consultants presented their vision to the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council at its October 29th meeting, they were somewhat boastful that less than a foot of water that would normally flow into the Lake would be lost. Clearly their sensitivity about the importance of Lake level was lacking.

Although we can and most certainly should debate the need, the impacts, and the cost of the proposed Bear River Water Development Project, there is no debate about the irreparable harm this project will have on the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.

As you know, the regional economic significance of the Lake to the State of Utah is - $1.3B annually. As a sovereign land and a public trust resource – by law- Great Salt Lake must be managed in perpetuity by the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands for the people of Utah. Adding to the many challenges the Division has in managing this complex system is the fluctuation in Lake level and how that affects its ecological character and endowment of ecosystem services.

Since the Bear River provides the lion’s share (60%) of inflows to the Lake, there is no question that this proposed upstream diversion of 220,000 acre feet of water will directly impact Lake levels.

One of the potential reservoir sites is Willard Bay. If this location is selected, it will not only impact the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge – a national wildlife refuge that was established in 1928 – but will also guarantee a direct loss of unique and valuable habitat of the Willard Spur, that in 2010 the Utah Water Quality Board authorized $1.2M to fund a 3- year scientific investigation to ensure the long term protection of the Spur’s aquatic life uses.

Are we willing to turn Great Salt Lake into an Owens Lake, the Aral Sea or Lake Urmia?

The fate of Great Salt Lake will be decided by our generation. That’s why we’re putting out another “Call.” This “Call” is for a comprehensive watershed based restoration and protection program for the Lake.  We propose that we – collectively - make a commitment – here and now - to focus our attention on the future of Great Salt Lake and how water fits into that picture. It’s time to unite our collective wisdom, our professional expertise and our will to achieve this necessary and timely undertaking for the Lake. We’ve got the numbers. We’ve got the know-how. We just have to do it.

In the words of Terry Tempest Williams “ The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.”

Great Salt Lake is our gift to the future. Let’s do everything possible to perpetuate its contribution to our culture, our consciousness, and our community.

In saline,


What you can do:

Stay informed about this issue on our website:

And thanks for being there for the Lake.


Why We Care

  • Save the dashing of the waves against the shore absolutely nothing is heard. Not the jumping of a fish, the chirp of an insect nor any of the least thing betokening life, unless it be that very rarely a solitary gull is disturbed in his midnight rumination and flies screaming away. All is stillness and solitude profound.

    Captain Howard Stansbury, The Stansbury Expedition