Great Salt Lake Research - Good Science Informs Good Management  

The GSL Ecosystem is a complex and unique saline ecosystem that is locally, regionally, hemispherically, and globally important. It provides a valuable mix of habitats from islands, open water, wetland complexes and uplands for native plant and wildlife populations. It also provides critical resting, staging and nesting capacity for over 260 avian species and millions of migratory birds. 

The Lake is an important economic contributor to the State of Utah through a variety of ecosystem services that include mineral extraction, brine shrimp, recreation and tourism among others. It provides $1.3 B annually to the state’s economy. 

The Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands in the Department of Natural Resources has jurisdictional responsibility for managing the Lake sustainably for future generations. The system is a hotbed of potential research opportunities that can help inform effective management decisions toward that end.

What follows are examples of some of the resources that are in place to help identify research needs and fund proposals that generate valuable science and insights about the system. These serve to increase our understanding so we can work to protect Great Salt Lake.  

Meetings for all of these standing bodies are open to the public.  We encourage you to attend these meetings and share your voice.  In addition to good science, good management is informed by a well-educated community.


Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands


Additional Great Salt Lake Organizations 






Congratulations to Clint Carney, 2019 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship Winner in the Graduate Division, and Chloe Fender, 2019 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship Winner in the Undergraduate Division. 

clint carney        Chloe Fender

FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake established the Doyle W. Stephens scholarship to celebrate Stephens' remarkable scientific contributions toward understanding the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem. This scholarship provides support to undergraduate and graduate students engaged in new or on-going research that focuses on Great Salt Lake and its ecosystem. 

Eligibility: Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled at an accredited college or university. Individuals who have previously received this award are not eligible. The award may be used to support laboratory or field research, attendance at professional meetings, or other activities that further the understanding or protection of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Research located anywhere in the Great Salt Lake watershed can qualify for this award. We will consider projects from any academic field (for instance: ecology, biology, chemistry, physics, geography, geology, urban planning, social sciences, communications, education, economics, tourism, engineering, etc.). 

Stay tuned for the 2020 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship Application dates. 

History of Dr. Doyle W. Stephens and the scholarship created in his name.

Doyle Stephens was born in Ogden, Utah, in 1944. He received his BS in Biology from Weber State College in 1967, his MS in Entomology in 1969 and his PhD in Limnology from the University of Utah in 1974.

At the time of his death in May, 2000, he had been a research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology.

Doyle Stephens made significant contributions toward public awareness of critical issues relating to Utah's natural resources and environment. Of particular importance were his efforts to increase public knowledge and awareness of the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem. As a contributor to the state's Great Salt Lake Ecosystem project, Doyle's work on Great Salt Lake shrimp ecology helped increase understanding about population dynamics of the shrimp in the lake and factors affecting the structure and density of the population.

"Stephens leaves a broad and deep body of scientific work. His legacy is that his work's contribution to the environment, to the economy, and to the quality of life in Utah will not diminish over time but will continue to grow," says Don Leonard, President, Utah Artemia Association.

Another colleague observed: "Icebergs don't happen in Great Salt Lake, save one. Before he left us so prematurely, we only got to see the tip of Doyle Stephens' impact on the work of almost every other Great Salt Lake investigator. As time passes, we will begin to understand the extent of Doyle's work and the encouragement he lent to others to wonder and search along with him."


Click here to donate. With your help, FRIENDS can continue to support and promote research critical to the conservation of Great Salt Lake.

Thank You To Our 2019 Donors Thank You To Our 2018 Donors Thank You To Our 2017 Donors  Thank you to our 2016 Donors 
Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, Inc. Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, Inc.  Lynn & Bradley Carroll Jim Carter
Great Salt Lake Audubon Great Salt Lake Audubon  Gail Blattenberger Jim and Edna Ehleringer
 Mark Brunson The Nature Conservancy  Robert Baskin & Lisa Watts Baskin Jody Gunderson & Bill Heeschen
 Joe Gardner Bill Heeschen & Judy Gunderson  Joe Gardner & Nancy Bush Vincie Giles
 Vincie Giles    The Nature Conservancy Joseph Hicks
 Bill Heeschen & Judy Gunderson    Joanna Endter-Wada Frank Jarvis
 Laird Norton


 Ali Sabbah Bill Trevithick
 Chris Montague    Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, Inc. Joanna Endter-Wada
 Jeff Richards     William and Donna Vogel
 Kenneth Sassen     Bruce and Kathy Waddell
Pete Webb      

Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship Recipients 

2003 - Henry Hyochang Lee, Ph.D. student, University of Utah "The economics of the brine shrimp resource in Great Salt Lake"

2004 - Ashlee Allred, Undergraduate, Westminster College "Phytoprotective pigment production by Great Salt Lake microbes"

2005 - Carla Koons Trentelman, Ph.D. student, Utah State University "Place attachment among neighbors of Great Salt Lake and its environs"

2006 & 2007 - Misty Riddle, Undergraduate, Westminster College "Microbial Influence in the Great Salt Lake: Identification of Great Salt Lake Microbes Associated with the Brine Shrimp, Artemia Franciscana"
2008 - Christy Cottrell, Undergraduate Weber State College "Metagenomic diversification of Great Salt Lake Brine Flies"
2009 - Gregory T. Carling, Ph.D. student, University of Utah "Mercury Cycling in Wetlands Adjacent to the Great Salt Lake"
2010 - Richard Beau Anderson, M.Sc. student, Univerisity of Utah "Recharge source, age, and projected flow path of submarine groundwater discharge to Great Salt Lake"
2011 - Anthony J. Roberts, Ph.D. student, Utah State University "Origin of Waterfowl Wintering on Great Salt Lake: A Stable Isotope Approach"
2012 - Rebekah Downard, Ph.D. student, Utah State University "Determining the Impact of Impoundment and Water Management on Wetland Condition around the Great Salt Lake, Utah"
2013 - Joel Pierson, M.Sc. student, University of Utah "Nutrient Cycling in Willard Spur, Great Salt Lake, Utah"
2014 - Christine Rohal, M.Sc. student, Utah State University "Effective methods for control of the widespread invasive grass, Phragmites australis: A large-scale, multi-year experiment to improve restoration of native wetland plant communities in Great Salt Lake wetlands"
2015 - Chris Mansfield, Undergraduate, Westminster College Is photo-­degradation an important control on methylmercury in the Great Salt Lake?
2016 - Derek Mallia, Ph.D. student, University of Utah "The Impacts of a Shrinking Great Salt Lake on Future Air Quality"

2017 -  Melody Lindsay, Ph.D. student, University of Montana "Effects of Changing Salinity on Microbialite-Associated Primary Producers and Secondary Consumers in Great Salt Lake"

You can read her full proposal here!

2018 – Katherine Barrett, Ph.D. student, University of Notre Dame "Linking Artemia To The Benthos: Do Microbialites Support Brine Shrimp Production in Great Salt Lake?" 

Recipient Video


Alfred Lambourne Prize

Awarded Friday, September 6th at Sorenson Community Campus

FRIENDS celebrates the relationship between local artists and one of Utah’s most precious natural resources, Great Salt Lake. Through artistic expressions, we enhance our capacity to build awareness about the Lake and our need to preserve and protect it for the future.

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. FRIENDS invited creative work inspired by the Lake in the forms of visual arts, literary arts, sound and movement. 

The prize takes its name from the renowned painter and writer Alfred Lambourne (1850-1926). Born in England, he moved with his family to the United States and settled in Salt Lake City in 1866. Lambourne’s artistic talents were put to use painting scenery for the Salt Lake Theater. He developed an early and passionate interest in Great Salt Lake, inspired in part by reading Captain Howard Stansbury’s account of the 1850 survey of the lake (Exploration and survey of the valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah, 1852). Lambourne traveled the lake by sailboat and lived for a time on Gunnison Island in the hopes of obtaining land there through homesteading.

Lambourne is remembered for the dozens of sketches and paintings he created of Great Salt Lake as he captured facets of water, light, and land in the romantic style reminiscent of the Hudson River School painters. His writing, based upon his time on Gunnison Island, stands out as the earliest, most evocative prose penned on the Lake’s physical attributes and psychological impressions. Lambourne melded fact and fiction as he wrote first in serial fashion about the lake for The Deseret News then published these writings as Pictures of an Inland Sea (1894; 1902) and Our Inland Sea: The Story of a Homestead (1909).

Visually inspired and poetic in nature, Lambourne bestowed upon us the Lake through lyrical prose:

"There is another phenomenon to be seen at infrequent periods on the Inland Sea, one that is unpaintable, and also, I believe, entirely local. It is to be witnessed during the calm summer twilights, when the pale, fairy-like tints on the water are breathed upon by opposite currents of languid wind. As they interplay in bands, in points, in shifting isles of amber, azure and rose, the whole surface shimmers and glistens like a silken robe studded with countless pearls."

The significance of Great Salt Lake to Lambourne as he engaged in his subject across several modes of artistic expression was key in FRIENDS’ decision to name the annual arts and humanities prize after him.

Artist and writer, Holly Simonsen, directs the Alfred Lambourne Prize Program for FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake. She is responsible for administering the prize, establishing the judges, and cataloging the submissions.

Feel free to contact her at


blob.jpgHikmet Sidney Loe

Born and raised on the east coast, Hikmet fell in love with the arid desert lands of Utah and the environs of Great Salt Lake. She is an artist, writer, and teacher whose work draws inspiration from the smaller patterns found in the larger environment and from the changeable nature of land, water, and sky. She teaches art history at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and teaches for the Venture Course. 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 (2017, University of Utah Press). She contributes regularly to the online magazine 15 Bytes ( and has essays included in the online site She is an active member of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, and in 2014 received their biennial "Friend of the Lake Award" for her outreach and dedication to issues surrounding Utah's inland sea.





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Holly Simonsen

Holly works in ecopoetic collaboration with Great Salt Lake, where her creations explore the relationship between language and ecologically disrupted environments. Although primarily a poet, her work often migrates off the page into 3D spaces. She earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She was a recent fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT and at the Djerassi Resident Artists’ Program in Woodside, CA. She currently works as an adjunct professor of English and literature at Westminster College and as the Membership & Programs Director for FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake. Links to her published work can be found at




2018 5th Annual Alfred Lambourne Prize

Click here to view photographs from the event. All photographs by Charles Uibel. 

Visual Arts Winner: Kathleen Carricaburu for Allegory of the Desert. View more of Carricaburu's work by clicking here.

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Literary Arts Winner: Amy Brunvand for Crown of Sonnets for Great Salt Lake 

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Movement Winner: Beth Krensky for Metaphysical Handcart. View more of Krensky's work by clicking here.

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Sound Winner: Charles Uibel and Mark Boer for Pictures From A Life. View the entire submission by clicking here.

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2018 Alfred Lamboure Arts Program is sponsored in part by a Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, & Parks Grant. ZAP is You!



2017 4th Annual Alfred Lambourne Prize

Visual Arts Winner: Michael Sharp for History/Prehistory 

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Literary Arts Winner: Alicia Anderson for lacustrine

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Movement Winner: Kendall Fischer for Breathing Sky

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Sound WInner: Stuart Wheeler for Red Lake 

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2016 3rd Annual Alfred Lambourne Prize

Click here to view photos from the event.

Visual Arts Winner: Virginia Cattherall  

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 Literary Arts Winner, Maurine Haltiner

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Sound Winner, Jules Jimreivat & Syd Sattler

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Movement Winner, Sarah Whiting & Wasatch Jr. High

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Sponsors: Yae Bryner, Allen & Julie Dodworth, Bruce Fowler, The Nature Conservancy in Utah, The Phillips Gallery, Ali Sabbah, The Sorenson Unity Center, The Taproot Foundation 

2015 2nd Annual Alfred Lambourne Prize

ALP 2015 winner

Winner : Max Rosenzweig, Visual Artist for his piece entitled Ephemeral Nonsites of the Great Salt Lake and Lake Bonneville

Sponsors : Bruce Fowler, John Milliken, Yae Bryner

2014 1st Annual Alfred Lambourne Prize

Winner : Marden Pond, Sound Artist, for his musical composition entitled "Sanctuary."

Sponsors : Bruce Fowler, Alderwood Fine Art, Will Bagley, Ben Behunin Pottery, Community Foundation of Utah, Meri DeCaria, Steve "Doc" Floor, David Glover, D. Goodell, InterNet Properties Inc, Richard Johnson, Wayne Martinson & Deb Sawyer, Capitol Hill Construction, Irving C. Smith, Springville Art Museum, XMission




Range-Wide Migratory Bird Conservation Through Linking Partnerships

A Hemispheric Perspective

"Great Salt Lake is the site of one of the largest shorebird concentrations in the world. If a light were lit where each shorebird began its journey, a map of Alaska, Canada, and the northwestern US would shine as with stars in the night sky. Add a light for each destination and the map would glitter from Utah south through Mexico and Central America to the tip of South America." Ella Sorensen - Great Salt Lake Naturalist

The Utah Linking Initiative participates in connecting people along a migratory bird pathway that extends from the Chaplin and Quill Lakes of Canada, through the Great Salt Lake of the United States, to the Marismas Nacionales of Mexico and beyond.

Linking promotes range-wide conservation of migratory birds that each community shares and the endemic birds that frequent these environments. As Linking partners we work within our communities and cooperate internationally to preserve these critical areas for their ecological values, and the economic, educational, social and cultural wellbeing of the people who live near them.

In the western hemisphere, Great Salt Lake serves as a major resting, staging and nesting site for millions of migratory birds as they travel between their winter and summer habitats. In the spring, American white pelicans, American avocets, Black-necked stilts, Marbled godwits and Peregrine falcons, to name a few, make their way to the upper reaches of Canada to the province of Sasketchewan. In the fall, they return through Great Salt Lake, then migrate south to Nayarit, Mexico or beyond.

The promise that these seasonal habitats will be there to receive them during migration is contingent upon a number of factors. Ironically, these factors are the very ones that have been identified as major threats to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem; development in wetland and upland habitats, diversion of water to those habitats, discharges that affect water quality for the fauna and flora, and ignorance about the importance of these habitats for migrating birds.

Preserving these hemispheric habitats and the bird species that rely on them is called range wide migratory bird conservation and requires international cooperation or "linking partnerships" to achieve such a goal. A linking partnership exists between Canada, the United States, Mexico and South America. The hope is that through communication, education and shared research; migratory bird species and their habitats will be protected throughout the hemisphere.

Learn more here: Linking Communities, Wetlands and Migratory Birds Initiative

To find out more about our organization and Great Salt Lake, please contact us.

FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake

150 South 600 East Suite 5D
Salt Lake City, Utah

Phone: (801) 583-5593


Robert Adler

Dean and Distinguished Professor at the University of Utah College of Law

Dr. Genevieve Atwood

Chief Education Officer, Earth Science Education, Assoc. Instructor, Dept. of Geography University of Utah

James P. Carter

Senior Planner, Logan Simpson Design, Salt Lake City, Utah

Dr. Steve Simms

Professor of Anthropology, Utah State University

Ella Sorenson

Naturalist, author and specialist on Great Salt Lake

Terry Tempest Williams

Naturalist and well-known author

Dr. Wayne Wurtsbaugh

Professor Dept. of Aquatic, Watershed and Earth Resources, Utah State University

Luke Garrott

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Utah

Board of Directors 

Rose Smith, President

rose smith Rose joined the board of FRIENDS in January 2018. She is an ecologist and her research focuses on hydrologic and biotic drivers of water quality and quantity in urban-impacted rivers. Her background includes research on stormwater management, sanitary infrastructure, and restoration in urban watersheds. She has also studied the impacts of acid rain and climate change on wetlands and forests. Originally from Maine, Rose received a BA in Environmental Studies and Biology from Mount Holyoke College, and a PhD in Geology from the University of Maryland. She moved to Salt Lake in 2016 to continue her research on urban watersheds at the University of Utah. Rose is passionate about conservation and believes it is crucial to consider ecosystems when managing water resources for multiple stakeholders. In her free time, she enjoys birding, skiing, climbing, and baking. 



Katie Pearce, Vice President

kdp sept2014Katie Pearce is part of the fund raising team for the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah supporting efforts to provide students with top-notch experiential education at a world-class learning facility. Prior to working at the U, Katie gained great experience overseeing the development efforts at Tracy Aviary for five years and as Assistant Director for Friends of Great Salt Lake for four years.

In her spare time, Katie continues to be involved with local organizations with missions that emphasize the value of space, place and conservation here in Utah and loves spending time with friends and family in Utah's great open spaces. Along with her involvement with FoGSL, Katie also sits on the board of directors for Utah Society of Fund Raisers.



Janice Gardner, Secretary


Janice joined the board of FRIENDS in January 2017 based on her interest in birds and conservation. She is passionate about supporting the health of the Great Salt Lake, as it is one of North America’s greatest migratory bird stopovers and breeding sites. Janice is a scientist and project manager for an environmental consultant; providing environmental planning for energy developments around the U.S. She also serves on the Utah Eagle Working Groupand is a past Board member of Great Salt Lake Audubon. Janice is a Certified WildlifeBiologist® and holds a BS in Wildlife Management from the University of New Hampshire and a MS in Ecology and Environmental Science from the University of Maine.




Melissa Stamp

MStamp HeadshotMelissa joined the board of FRIENDS in March, 2015. Her background includes working as an environmental educator for Red Butte Garden and 13 years of water resource consulting experience. Melissa's expertise includes assessment and restoration of stream and riparian ecosystems, collection and analysis of hydrologic and water quality data, stormwater management, and regulatory permitting. She has worked on a variety of watershed and water quality projects in various Great Salt Lake tributary systems including the Bear, Provo, Weber, and Jordan River watersheds.Melissa holds a BA in Geography from Dartmouth College and an MS in watershed science with an emphasis in fluvial geomorphology from Utah State University. In her free time she enjoys running, coaching ultimate frisbee, and hiking with her husband and dog.



R. Jefre Hicks


R. Jefre Hicks pic

In 1972, I started prowling around the marshes and shores of the Great Salt Lake... I got lost, I got stuck, I got stinky, and I got salty, but most of all I got hooked. As a hunter and a bird watcher, I have been fortunate to see amazing wildlife interactions and beautiful forces of nature at work on the GSL, hopefully I can help to preserve these kinds of experiences for the future generations to come.   







Melissa Barbanell

barbanell banffMelissa joined the board of FRIENDS in November of 2016. Her background includes providingenvironmental policy leadership and establishing a strategic approach to relationships with key stakeholders including legislators, regulators, trade associations, and non-governmental organizations. Substantively, Melissa has worked on water conservation, biodiversity, ecosystem services, air quality, climate change, and mercury management. While Melissa had always appreciated the beauty of Great Salt Lake, her work on biodiversity globally made her aware of how important the lake is and how critical it is to protect it. Melissa has served on numerous boards including non-governmental organizations and trade associations. Melissa has practiced environmental law and clerked on the Utah Supreme Court. Melissa has a B.A. in Philosophy from Tulane University, an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Utah, and a J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family. 




Gen Green20161010 d1oldphoto

Gen develops spatially-based solutions for the wide range of conservation challenges that arise when people and nature interact.  Her understanding of environmental systems and experience with spatial analysis techniques allow researchers to interpret their data and visualize these interactions. She believes that we have to find new models to balance the competing priorities for resources while also conserving the critical ecosystem services upon which all life depends

“Snowfall, saline minerals, resident and migratory bird habitat and microbialites are all heavily influenced by interactions between the Great Salt Lake and the ever-increasing human desire for resources. We have a great stewardship responsibility both for our generation and generations to come. We live alongside a unique natural wonder; we have much to learn from it.

FRIENDs' commitment to understanding Great Salt Lake is essential to insuring that future generations enjoy the same beauty and benefits that we enjoy today." 



Ashley Kijowski

ashleyI began working as an Aquatic Biologist for the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program (UDWR) in late 2013. Here my duties are to develop research questions, prepare study design and conduct research in regards to the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Before moving to Utah, I worked as a wetland researcher for University of Wisconsin-Stout. Here we studied the metacommunity theory in both permanent and ephemeral wetlands. I have also worked on designing and constructing artificial streams and wetland habitat throughout the northern Midwest to manage for an endangered species. These projects have instilled in me the importance of connectivity on the landscape. I hope to better understand this relationship on Great Salt Lake. I earned a BS in Biology from Illinois State University and an MS in Biology with a focus on invertebrate community ecology and conservation from University of South Dakota.

In my free time, I enjoy hiking with my dog Nova, running, mountain biking, archery and reading.



Chris Jackson-Jordan

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Chris works as a GIS Training Specialist with the US Forest Service, training federal employees on how toincorporate spatial analysis and geography into their work. He found his way to the west via AmeriCorps in Idaho and has since worked for several national and regional environmental non-profits in the inter-mountain west. He holds a dual BA in Sustainable Development and Geography and a MA in Geography from Appalachian State University. When he isn’t running, climbing, or skiing in the Wasatch Mountains, he can be found lying in the sun reading Edward Abby.





Kristen Bonner

Kristen Bonner

Kristen joined the board of FRIENDS in 2018. She has a passion for helping learners of all ages connect to, understand, and develop critical thinking skills about their local environments through her career in education. She has worked as an educator for The Living Planet Aquarium, facilitated professional development programs for teachers for the Utah State Office of Education and Utah Society for Environmental Education, and had the opportunity to guide students on field trips in Great Salt Lake’s wetlands for the Nature Conservancy and USU Botanical Center. Currently, she is the science lab teacher at a public elementary school in Salt Lake City.Kristen holds a BS from the University of Utah in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Biology Teaching. When she isn’t in her classroom, she can be found having adventures with her family, reading, and running on roads and trails




 Joel Moore

Joel FluoroprobeJoel is an aquatic and fisheries ecologist with experience in limnological research and water quality. Hi ecological interests goes back to days an an undergraduate student doing research on the Great Salt Lake and freshwater lake ecosystems for the Wurtsbaugh Lab at Utah State University. He has studied lake and river ecosystems and their interactions with surrounding watersheds throughout the intermountain west, Alaska, and Antarctica as a undraduate and graduate student researcher, through employment with the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District water quality group in Denver, and as an environmental consultant in Utah, Colorado, and Montana. While a graduate student at Montana State University, Joel studied ice-covered lakes in Antarctica that support a surprising diversity of microbial life, not unlike the Great Salt Lake. Joel's professional experience includes ecological assessments, monitoring, permitting, regulatory compliance, and scientific analysis in a wide variety of natural resource fields. Joel loves recreating in the outdoors and considers it a privilege to live in a place where natural spaces can be enjoyed each day. He was motivated to join the board of the Friends of the Great Salt Lake because he believes our natural spaces generally, and the Great Salt Lake specifically, are invaluable and are under great threat and wants apply his passion for the natural environment into action that will help protect and preserve these resources through volunteering and community involvement.  


Ryan Beam

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Ryan was called to join the board of FRIENDS in October 2018 because of his fascination with the lake and love of birds. He is excited to spread interest in and love for the lake and to work towards health for the ecosystem and the surrounding communities. Ryan works as an advocate for the protection of public lands and is engaged in regional organizing for climate justice among other issues. He has been working for environmental organizations on the Colorado Plateau for the last five years and holds a BS in Natural Resource Management from Colorado State University.




Lynn de Freitas, Executive Director

lynndefreitas-squareLynn began her involvement with FRIENDS shortly after its founding in 1994. She became President of the Board in 1996 and Executive Director in 2002.  She is a full time volunteer. She especially enjoys working on developing policies that address the unique role and characteristics of the Great Salt Lake to ensure its long term sustainability.

Prior to her affiliation with FRIENDS, she was a library media coordinator for 18 years in both public and private schools in the Salt Lake area. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Montclair State College and an M. Ed in Educational Systems and Learning Resources from the University of Utah. In 2007, she received the Girl Scouts of Utah Award for Courage, Confidence and Character. In 2006, she received the Calvin K. Sudweeks Award for outstanding contributions in the water quality field in the State of Utah by the Utah Water Quality Board. In 2002, she received the Utah Environmental Educator Volunteer of the Year Award from the Utah Society for Environmental Education.

In her free time, she is an avid birder, enjoys travel and is learning dressage.


Rob Dubuc, General Counsel

Rob DWhen Rob isn’t hanging around Great Salt Lake, he enjoys spending his time exploring the wilds of the Intermountain West –especially Montana.  Either that or he’s exploring the wilds of the back nine on a local golf course.  As one of two attorneys for the Lake, Rob is dedicated to ensuring that the Lake is protected against the many threats to the health of its ecosystem.  Or as he puts it, he wants to ensure that his grandchildren’s grandchildren can enjoy the many wonder of Great Salt Lake that he’s been privileged to experience.



Holly Simonsen, Membership & Programs Director

10355567 10204140627068763 28638153912543309 oHolly Simonsen works in ecopoetic collaboration with Great Salt Lake. She operates under the thesis that ecologically disrupted sites offer access points for the body to experience language as a product of the earth. She works on the page and off, incorporating installation art, performance art, sound experimentation, and ephemeral sculpture into her poetic practice. In 2010 she circumnavigated the southern portion of Great Salt Lake as poetic ritual. She earned her M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, Vermont. She recently served fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She invites you to read more about her poetic process on her website.  

Holly started her career in education and taught high school English and creative writing classes for eight years. In 2010 she was hired by Westminster College and has taught in the English, Environmental Studies, Art, and Honors programs. She also has extensive work and volunteer experience in the nonprofit sector. In her free time she enjoys playing outside. 

Email Holly at




Katie Newburn, Education & Outreach Director

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Katie grew up in Northern California, where her appreciation for nature and outdoor recreation first began. With a passion for effecting positive change, she pursued a degree in Political Science and earned her B.A. from Chapman University in 2016. After graduating, Katie facilitated outdoor science and social studies field trips for elementary students across Orange County, CA. This experience showed her the power of outdoor education to ignite students' love of nature and passion for protecting the environment. Katie is dedicated to advancing environmental education as a means of advancing environmental conservation and stewardship.

Katie moved to Utah in 2017 to enjoy its abundance of natural beauty. Working in nonprofit development, she got to know Salt Lake City as a close-knit and compassionate community. Now, she hopes to inspire this community to get to know its namesake, and better appreciate and protect Great Salt Lake's beauty and ecological significance.

In her free time, Katie enjoys canyoneering in Zion National Park, traveling, practicing yoga, thrift shopping and listening to NPR.



Mischa Ostberg, Environmental Education Coordinator

Mischa grew up in Illinois and obtained her B.A. in Scandinavian language from Augustana College in 2014 and her M.S. in Environmental Management and Policy from Purdue University in 2018. She moved to Utah in 2016 to work as a Wilderness Ranger in the High Uinta Wilderness. After her season in Utah, she moved to Winter Harbor, Mainemischa zion pic to teach Environmental Science in Acadia National Park at the Schoodic Institute in the fall. She completed her season in Acadia and found herself longing for the beauty of the wild places.

Mischa worked in recreational therapy which showed her the power experiencial education has to help shape a student's relationship with the outdoors. She strongly believes in exposing individulas to the outdoors in order to help them develope an appreciation and understanding of the environment we so heavily rely on. 

Mischa spends her time working with a local non-profit, Elevated Mountain Guides, an organization that provides outdoor experiences to underrepresented youth in the Salt Lake area,as a grant writer and volunteer coordinator. She likes to hike, backpack, climb, and kayak in her spare time and loves to play with her 2 ferrets and her husky.


Why We Care

  • We should bill the lake for what it is—a place of grandeur and solitude, which nourishes our thoughts and heightens our sensitivity to nature. Seen in that light, the brine flies become a fascinating curiosity more than an annoyance. The Great Salt Lake offers a wilderness experience, not a beach party, and no amount of promotion and development will change that.

    Dean L. May, Images of the Great Salt Lake