Category: Great Salt Lake

Snowmelt helping to increase volume of Utah’s lakes

SALT LAKE CITY — The Great Salt Lake is becoming “greater” than it’s been in a while.

With most reservoirs brimming in northern Utah due to heavy snowmelt, the extra water is being released through rivers and emptying out into the Great Salt Lake.

And there is plenty of snow still to melt in the highest elevations.

According to the latest numbers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Willard Bay is at 102 percent capacity. Utah’s reservoirs have reached an average of 73 percent capacity. Pineview Dam is at 101 percent and Bear Lake is at 76 percent.

Every day, Mark Messier sets sail onto the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere.

He is thrilled with this year’s high water levels.

“Look how sexy this is,” Messier said, pointing to the water. “It’s blue. Trust me — it’s water. It’s warm.”

Water in the south arm of the lake is up 2.5 feet since December. The north arm has increased by two feet. This while full reservoirs above the lake are forced to release excess snowmelt.

“You don’t want them full because you want to be able to control the water going through the reservoir,” said Todd Adams of the Division of Water Resources.

These winds of change come after decades of exceptionally low levels in the Great Salt Lake.

In 2015, levels dipped so low that sailboats couldn’t leave the marina.

“A couple years, we weren’t able to get out,” Messier said. “I would like to see it six feet up or eight, ten feet up. It would open up these little bays and we wouldn’t be getting stuck. Antelope would be an island. It’s not an island.”

Six good months aren’t enough to bring the saltwater lake to capacity, but Adams said it’s a turn in the right direction.

Environmental groups protest drilling rights sold near Great Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — A coalition of environmental groups gathered at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday to protest the auction of oil leases on nearly 10,000 acres on the northwest side of the Great Salt Lake.

The auction, conducted online, sold all of the available leases to the same developer, identified only as “Bidder #2” for $2 an acre. That price allows extraction rights on the land for ten years.

“Elected leaders in Utah continue to double, triple, and quadruple down on fossil fuel development even though it’s more evident than ever that right now we need to take action on climate change,” said Ryan Beam of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Those opposed to the measure said the Bureau of Land Management wants oil companies to drill west of the lake, in and around the foothills of the Hogup Mountains, which they argue will damage historic artifacts, disrupt migratory birds, and harm other wildlife in the area.

Protest planned at Utah State Capitol to oppose proposed drilling near Great Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — Environmentalists will gather at the Utah State Capitol Tuesday to protest oil and gas drilling near Great Salt Lake.

Several groups are opposing a Trump administration plan to auction off nearly 10,000 acres of public land for drilling.

Those opposed to the measure said the Bureau of Land Management wants oil companies to drill west of the lake, in and around the foothills of the Hogup Mountains, which they argue will damage historic artifacts, disrupt migratory birds, and harm other wildlife in the area.

The protest begins at noon at the steps of the Capitol. Fox 13 news will update this story as more details emerge.

Great Salt Lake, other water bodies near capacity from snowmelt

SALT LAKE CITY — The Great Salt Lake is becoming “greater” than it’s been in a while.

With most reservoirs brimming in northern Utah due to heavy snowmelt, the extra water is being released through rivers and emptying out into the Great Salt Lake.

And there is plenty of snow still to melt in the highest elevations.

According to the latest numbers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Willard Bay is at 102 percent capacity. Utah’s reservoirs have reached an average of 73 percent capacity. Pineview Dam is at 101 percent and Bear Lake is at 76 percent.

Every day, Mark Messier sets sail onto the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere.

He is thrilled with this year’s high water levels.

“Look how sexy this is,” Messier said, pointing to the water. “It’s blue. Trust me — it’s water. It’s warm.”

Water in the south arm of the lake is up 2.5 feet since December. The north arm has increased by two feet. This while full reservoirs above the lake are forced to release excess snowmelt.

“You don’t want them full because you want to be able to control the water going through the reservoir,” said Todd Adams of the Division of Water Resources.

These winds of change come after decades of exceptionally low levels in the Great Salt Lake.

In 2015, levels dipped so low that sailboats couldn’t leave the marina.

“A couple years, we weren’t able to get out,” Messier said. “I would like to see it six feet up or eight, ten feet up. It would open up these little bays and we wouldn’t be getting stuck. Antelope would be an island. It’s not an island.”

Six good months aren’t enough to bring the saltwater lake to capacity, but Adams said it’s a turn in the right direction.

Great Salt Lake State Park attempts to set world floating record

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Locals and tourists are invited to float on Great Salt Lake in an attempt to set a world record on Saturday, June 8.

The record for the largest number of people floating, unassisted, in a line at one time was set in 2017 at Lake Epecuen in Argentina with 1,941 people and the Great Salt Lake State Park is hoping to shatter that mark.

Entry fares for the park will be waived for the day and Utah State Parks will provide drinking water and water for washing off salt after the event.

Evidence of the world record attempt will be sent to Guinness World Records and the event begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Great Saltair.

Park officials said the Saltair’s parking will allow for better access instead of the Great Salt Lake Marina and restrooms, concessions and the gift shop will be open.

Nature Conservancy offers new Spanish Great Salt Lake audio tour

LAYTON, Utah – The Nature Conservancy launched a Spanish version of its Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve audio tour to connect more listeners to the landscape.

The preserve is a 4,400-acre wetland known as a feeding and nesting ground for migrating birds and the boardwalk and visitor’s center are celebrating their 15th anniversary this year.

Visitors can download the TravelStorys app to listen to the audio tour here; the preserve is open every day from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. from April through September and from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. October through March.

The preserve is located 30 minutes north of Salt Lake City.

Great Salt Lake sees levels rising

SALT LAKE CITY – More than a billion dollars of Utah’s economy comes from the Great Salt Lake, according to Great Salt Lake Marina Harbor Master Dave Shearer.

When the lake levels are good, so is the economy.

Snowpack levels are about 150-to-180 percent above-average throughout the state, meaning levels in the Great Salt Lake will rise 2-to-3 feet higher than last year.

“Things are looking up, we really need this,” said Shearer.

It’s a big deal for anyone who plays at the beach, goes boating but also for those who play in the snow up in the mountains — the Great Salt Lake even affects the water we drink.

It all comes down to how storm systems pass over the lake. Shearer said cold storm fronts come across the warm lake and it acts as a “turbo charge,” dumping snow out onto the mountains.

“Without the Great Salt Lake and that lake-effect snow, those mountains would be pretty dry,” said Shearer.

It’s been pretty dry in Utah for the past twenty years.

Fifty percent of the lake levels comes from precipitation, but the other half comes from snowpack. Though this year has been above average, hydrologist Brian McInerney with the National Weather Services said it will take years to recover from this dry spell.

“We’ll probably need upwards of 10-to-15 years of above-average runoff,” said McInerney. “That means above-average run off all the way at the outlet of the Weber and the outlet of the Bear River that goes into the Great Salt Lake.”

The last time the lake saw record levels was back in 2011 when the lake rose five feet.