Salt Lake City is considering zoning changes to allow extensive warehouse development in the Northpoint community (northeast of the airport), similar to the inland port warehouse development occurring west of the airport.

This proposal would degrade critical habitat for vulnerable migratory birds, contribute to air pollution that disproportionately affects Westside communities, and displace current residents.

At the Salt Lake City Planning Commission meeting on January 11, many community members and conservation leaders spoke in opposition of this zoning change. The Commission voted to table the upzoning proposal until the Salt Lake City Council votes on the new Northpoint Small Area Master Plan. This City Council meeting will be the next opportunity for community members to comment, and we'll share more details as they become available.

Click here to read the comment submitted by our Executive Director, Lynn de Freitas.

You can also sign this petition opposing the upzoning.

Learn more about the Northpoint Warehouse District proposal here.

Published in News and Events
November 23, 2020

Land Use & Wildlife

Promontory Point Landfill

landfillLocated on the shore of Great Salt Lake, Promontory Point Resources owns and operates the Promontory Point Landfill. The Landfill began construction this past year as a Class I Landfill – meaning is can only accept in-state waste. The Landfill is permitting to accept over 380 million tons of Utah’s waste.

This year, Promontory Point Resources submitted an application to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a Class V landfill, in order to accept and dispose of industrial waste from out of state. FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is concerned with the potential for the Promontory Point Landfill to release of toxic contaminants into Great Salt Lake.

FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake and our partnering organizations: Utah Audubon Council, Utah Airboat Association, Utah Waterfowl Association, Great Salt Lake Alliance, GSL Audubon, Western Resource Advocates, South Shore Wetlands & Wildlife Management, Inc., League of Women Voters of Salt Lake, National Audubon Society, Utah Sierra Club, HEALUtah, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Utah Rivers Council, residents and business owners from Box Elder County, and our organizing partners, the Great Salt Lake Institute, Weber State University, and Utah State University hosted three public information meetings to discuss Promontory Point Resources, LLC Landfill and its application with the State Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control for a Class V waste permit -- a permit specifically designed to accept waste from out of state.

A Class V permit would allow the company to receive California Hazardous waste, which that state defines as "waste with a chemical composition or other properties that make it capable of causing illness, death, or some other harm to humans and other life forms." Waste would also include coal ash from throughout the West and Midwest. Coal ash, or as Utah calls it, Coal Combustion Residual, is the byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity. Depending on where the coal is mined, it can contain an array of dangerous toxicants, including arsenic, lead, mercury, antimony, and boron. The landfill would also be able to accept special wastes and small quantity generator hazardous wastes, such as low-level infectious waste, heavy metals, solvents, and a variety of organic compounds like PCBs.

Located on the south west tip of the Promontory Peninsula on the north shore of Great Salt Lake, the landfill operation brings great potential risks to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem, a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network Site for millions of migratory birds, and to the $1.3 billion in revenue that the Lake generates annually to the State of Utah.

You can read more in the Winter 2018 FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake newsletter. Learn about this important issue and its long term implications to Great Salt Lake and all Utahns.

Click the following link to the RDCC website for comments that were submitted on the proposed Class V permit request by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, and the Utah Geological Survey office in the Department of Natural Resources for the latest on the Promontory Point Landfill. 

West Davis Highway

On September 29, 2017 the U.S. Department Transportation issued their Record of Decision approving the West Davis Corridor, a highway that spans the western portions of Davis and Weber Counties from Farmington to Clinton, Utah.

FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake was involved in the scoping and comment periods for the project:

Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline

A brief overview to Audubon's new report on creating a sustainable water future for birds and people in the American West

Water is the most precious resource in the West—for people, birds, and other wildlife. Riparian habitats like the forests and wetlands that line the Colorado River support some of the most abundant and diverse bird communities in the arid West, serving as home to some 400 species. The Colorado River also provides drinking water for more than 36 million people, irrigates 5.5 million acres of farms and ranches, and supports 16 million jobs throughout seven states—with an annual economic impact of $1.4 trillion. But dams, diversions, drought, and water demand are triggering declines in cottonwood-willow forests and other native river habitat. Saline lakes—landlocked saltwater lakes fringed with wetlands found throughout the Intermountain West—are beacons for millions of birds crossing an otherwise arid landscape. However, these lakes are shrinking and in some cases nearly disappearing. In short, precipitous declines in western water quantity and quality are exacting a toll on health, prosperity, and quality of life for rural and urban communities—and putting birds and wildlife at jeopardy.

Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline represents the first comprehensive assessment of the complex and vital relationships that exist among birds, water, and climate change in the region. Our research focused on two of the most imperiled and irreplaceable western ecosystems: 1) the Colorado River Basin; and 2) the West’s network of saline lakes—including the Great Salt Lake and Salton Sea as well as other smaller but vitally important lakes. Audubon science staff collaborated with outside experts in hydrology, water chemistry, and ecotoxicology, as well as ornithology, in an extensive review of the scientific literature on birds, water, and climate change in the region, with a particular focus on eight western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. In addition, we synthesized regional bird data from a number of sources to assess impacts on birds in the region, and convened avian experts to deepen our shared understanding of the migratory movement of shorebirds and waterbirds among western saline lakes.

Research Objectives:

  • Increase our understanding of how the decline of riparian habitat in the Colorado River Basin and at saline lakes is impacting birds
  • Assess the status of key western bird species representative of multiple species that depend on riparian and saline lake habitat
  • Analyze impacts and threats to these species’ habitat posed by lack of available water and the anticipated effects of climate change
  • Provide recommendations for water management policy priorities and practices and future science research

Saline Lakes of the Intermountain West

Great Salt Lake is part of a system of saline lakes in the Intermountain West that provide essential habitat for migrating and breeding birds. Audubon also recognizes the importance of Great Salt Lake and is working to raise awareness.

For links to local media coverage, visit Audubon.org

Phragmites

Phragmites is an invasive weed that is common in Great Salt Lake wetlands. The plant not only sucks up water from Great Salt Lake, but degrades important bird and wildlife habitat. In Utah, great efforts are made to control and manage the spread of this weed. Research teams at the University of Utah have been dedicated to understanding the science of controlling phragmites for the benefit of wildlife habitat on Great Salt Lake. Control options require mowing, cutting, grazing, and/or herbicide applications.

How To Restore Phragmites-Invaded Wetlands

Published in Advocacy Issues