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Emergency symposium to set the record straight on Utah Lake

At the center of Utah Valley, Utah Lake is one of the largest and most productive freshwater lakes in the western U.S. It is also one of the most misunderstood. Professors from Brigham Young University are joining researchers from universities and organizations across the state to address the lake’s most prevailing issues during a public symposium at Utah Valley University (UVU) on August 4.

Utah Lake

"Our goal is to bring sound scientific and cultural knowledge about Utah Lake to the people of Utah,” says Ben Abbott, BYU ecology professor and chair of the symposium planning committee. “With so many critical decisions facing the lake, we want to compile all the available information about the lake in a digestible format.”

This free, public event is intended for interested community members of all backgrounds. Researchers from across the state will present a comprehensive but non-technical overview of the challenges and opportunities facing Utah Lake. This first annual Utah Lake Symposium will take place on Wednesday, August 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in room 510 of the UVU Clarke Building. The event will also be livestreamed at Audience members can ask questions, get to know researchers and managers, and participate in a photo and art competition. Lunch will be provided for all attendees who register.

The emergency symposium was organized in response to potential changes in governance. The state legislature is considering major revisions to how Utah Lake is managed, including a bill to create a Utah Lake Authority patterned after the Inland Port Authority in Salt Lake County. Likewise, proposals are under consideration to dredge the lake and create artificial islands where hundreds of thousands of new housing units could be built.

“Utah Lake is unique, awe-inspiring, and beautiful,” UVU chemistry professor Kevin Shurtleff says. “It would be a tragedy to alter it with man-made islands. There are better solutions to reduce harmful algae blooms and make the lake more pristine and recreation-friendly.”

Research and restoration efforts for Utah Lake have been underway for decades. Projects led by local and state organizations seek to restore water flow to the lake, remove invasive species, and reduce pollutants from wastewater, storm water, and agriculture. Carp removal and restoration of river deltas contributed to the recovery of the native June sucker fish, which was removed from the endangered species list this year.

Shannon Ellsworth, member of the Provo City Council and Conserve Utah Valley, believes this is an important opportunity to learn from Utah’s experts about decisions that could affect future generations. “The organizers of the Utah Lake Symposium 2021 are pioneering research and policy that will lay the groundwork for a prosperous and healthy future,” she says.

Register online to reserve a spot at this historic event.