Research and Community Engagement

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

Great Salt Lake Advisory Council

Great Salt Lake is of hemispheric importance as both a refueling stop for millions of migratory birds and a nesting area for others. Eighty percent of Utah's wetlands surround the lake. The mineral extraction industry, duck hunting clubs, and the brine shrimp industry are dependent on the vitality of the lake. Nature enthusiasts flock to the lake because of its ecological importance. Utahans draw a significant amount of their heritage and identity from the lake.

Through adoption of House Bill 343 during the 2010 general session of the Utah Legislature, the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council was created to advise on the sustainable use, protection, and development of the Great Salt Lake.

Great Salt Lake Advisory Meetings

GSLAC Health Fact Sheet.pdf

GSLAC Economic Fact Sheet.pdf 

Definition and Assessment of GSL Health SWCA 2012.pdf

Economic Significance of GSL 2012.pdf

GSL Research Topics Database.docx


Great Salt Lake Tech Team

Housed in the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands (FFSL), the Great Salt Lake Technical Team exists to provide technical support to the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council.  Originally established in 1988, its mission is to provide guidance and recommendations in the monitoring, management and research efforts of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and to provide a forum for the interchange of information on ideas, projects, and programs that affect the activities and natural systems of the Great Salt Lake. 

The Team meets approximately four times a year in a venue open to the public. The Team views research presentations, receives project updates, and discusses research and funding opportunities.

Great Salt Lake Tech Team Meetings

Past Presentations and Meeting Minutes

Great Salt Lake Research Grants


Additional Great Salt Lake Organizations 

Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program

The purpose of the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program (GSLEP) is to manage and conserve the avian and aquatic communities of Great Salt Lake through monitoring and research.

Great Salt Lake Alliance

Great Salt Lake Institute

Connecting people to Great Salt Lake through research and education.
Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) was established in 2008 with support from Westminster College and an external grant, allowing us to hire a coordinator, involve student employees, and purchase equipment to reach out to the community in a real way. We began by running community field trips and developing high school and college curriculum on GSL. Shortly thereafter, we created a GSLI summer undergraduate research program.

Utah State University

Utah State University is working extensively on the Great Salt Lake watershed.  Wayne Wurtsbaugh, professor in USU’s Department of Watershed Resources and the USU Ecology Center is a leading researcher on Great Salt Lake.

Utah Wetlands Foundation

Jordan River Watershed Council

The Jordan River Watershed Council is dedicated to the ecological and economic sustainability of the Jordan River watershed through the promotion of stakeholder involvement.

Download the 2017 Record of Decision of the Jordan River Comprehensive Management Plan here.Download the 2017 Record of Decision of the Jordan River Comprehensive Management Plan here.

Jordan River Watershed Commission

The Commission's programs at Utah and Great Salt Lakes involves land acquisition, restoring acquired lands, fish habitat improvement and riparian restoration. To achieve measurable improvements, the Commission is coordinating with many communities and interests.

Bear River Regional Commission

Protecting Bear Lake Through Coordination, Cooperation and Education

The Bear Lake Regional Commission has become the organization that deals with managing growth on this unique regional resource, not always directly, but through it’s abilities to traverse multiple state and regional jurisdictions.






More in this category: Great Salt Lake Map

Why We Care

  • Much has been made of the tragic loss of rain forests in our hemisphere... But, in fact, because of their productivity of plant and animal matter rich in fats and proteins, freshwater marshes are the most productive ecosystems on Earth.

    Charles Potter, former Executive Director, North American Wildlife Foundation