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The Past, Present And Future Of Utah Lake: Part I

Jeff Beck

Debate is swirling around a proposed project to dredge Utah Lake and use the recovered sediment to build nearly three dozen islands. Proponents of the plan claim it’s the only way to save the ailing lake, while a chorus of detractors say it’s a boondoggle with no scientific basis. But what about the lake itself?

Not unlike its salty sister to the north, Utah Lake is often disregarded by the hundreds of thousands of people who live near it. A remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville, Utah Lake is the state's largest freshwater body. People have inhabited its shores for 10,000 years. In recent history, we’ve planted carp in the lake, dumped raw sewage into it, and overfished it. Runoff from cities, farms, and industry has led to deadly algal blooms. This Friday at 11 a.m., we’re talking about the natural and cultural history of Utah Lake, and we’ll ask about the more than $6 billion dollar plan to give it a major facelift.


  • Ben Abbott is a professor of plant and wildlife sciences at Brigham Young University.
  • Brian Maffly covers public lands and the environment for the Salt Lake Tribune.
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