Advocacy & Current Issues

Why We Advocate for Great Salt Lake

"Protecting the environment is not like building a highway or painting a building. You can't do it and walk away from further work. You must stay everlastingly at it, or things begin to slide."

Wm. D. Ruckelshaus, 1st and 5th EPA Administrator

At the 1996 Biennial Great Salt Lake Issues Forum, four major threats to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem were identified.

  • Ignorance about the Lake
  • Development in the uplands and wetlands
  • Diverting riverine and instream flows that would normally enter the Lake
  • Discharges into the Lake from industry and a growing population
  • Water for the system
  • Climate change

Using these threats as guidelines for our Lake work, we are strategically moving forward on a variety of fronts to preserve and protect this hemispherically important ecosystem.

We recognize that in order for people to care about Great Salt Lake and work to protect it, they must first understand it. To that end, we provide both formal and informal Great Salt Lake education programs, activities and materials to help build that connection.

Located next to a growing metropolitan area, with a population predicted to surpass 5 million people by 2050, the ecological and economic sustainability of Great Salt Lake poses an interesting challenge. The Lake not only generates billions of economic dollars for the State but is an extremely fragile and complex system.

Proposed transportation facilities that bring development closer to the shores of the Lake, extremely high levels of mercury in Great Salt Lake waterfowl, discharges from mining operations, damming the Bear River to bring more water to the growing Wasatch Front and oil and gas development require timely and effective due diligence in our advocacy work.

We strive to build collaborative partnerships to promote Great Salt Lake watershed health and habitat sustainability. And when necessary, work with legal resources to elevate the importance of these issues to get the attention needed for responsible results.

As long as the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem is dealt with as an isolated drying up body of water, its importance will always be marginalized when confronted with the "needs of the people."


Audubon Executive Summary—Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline

18 July 2017
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…

New Breach Allows Flow on Great Salt Lake

06 December 2016
The new Great Salt Lake breach was opened on Dec. 1 by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. This created a new opening between the north and the south arm of the Lake, allowing water to flow between the two sides. This time-lapse video shows the breach opening, which took about…

Kennecott Withdrawal Win for Air Quality

26 October 2015
Air quality advocates are expressing their appreciation this week for the recent news that Kennecott Copper has abandoned its plans to construct a new rock crusher plant as part of the mine's overall expansion effort. Press Release - Kennecott Withdrawal Win for Air Quality

Report to Utah Legislature - A Performance Audit of Projections of Utah's Water Needs May 2015

26 October 2015
A Legislative Audit to determine the reliability of the Utah Division of Water Resources data and assess the accuracy of its projections of water demand and supply to address projected water needs of Utah’s growing population by 2060 was released in May 2015. The audit lists a passel of things…

News on the West Davis Freeway!

05 September 2013
Feds say new Utah highway would permanently harm wetlands EPA's comments on the West Davis Freeway DEIS Farmington City Executive Summary WDC DEIS Farmington asks UDOT for new corridor plan

The Shared Solution is a Better Alternative to the West Davis Freeway

20 August 2013
As part of a growing coalition of organizations and citizens, FRIENDS is working with others to ensure that UDOT gives the Shared Solution alternative a full and fair analysis as an alternative to the West Davis Freeway. It’s a better way to plan for future population growth, reduces air…

Why is Utah Fast-Tracking the Permit for a Massive Expansion of Kennecott's Tailings Impoundment?

07 August 2013
The Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has issued a draft modification for the Ground Water Discharge Permit (UGW350011) for the proposed expansion of the Kennecott Utah Copper Tailings Impoundment. Public comments are due August 12, 2013. The conservation community has a number of concerns about the adequacy and the…

Keep raising your concerns, doubts and misgivings about the West Davis Freeway

30 July 2013
Comments may be submitted online. See link within article.

Remember the Legacy Highway? Here We Go Again!

03 June 2013
UDOT is proposing to build a $600M+ freeway through West Davis and Weber Counties. The high speed 4 lane elevated freeway will cut through neighborhoods, family farms, wildlife habitat and wetlands while increasing vehicle miles traveled, exacerbate poor air quality conditions, impact water quality, and change the landscape forever. Attend…

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Why We Care

  • How might we appropriately care for something if we do not know about it? How can we as citizens make informed decisions, without first being informed? We cannot.

    Bruce Thompson, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake