SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A group of college students from Brigham Young University recently traveled to Washington, DC to discuss the future of the Great Salt Lake with lawmakers.
Students and researchers, who have been studying the lake in-depth, spoke with legislative leaders and requested a preliminary report on the possibility of designating the lake as a national park.
The students' efforts have sparked a passionate debate among individuals with differing views on the idea.
The Great Salt Lake, with its unique ecosystem – including the Salt Flats, Antelope Island and the Spiral Jetty – holds significant cultural and ecological value.
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Advocates for the national park designation said they believe it would ensure the lake's preservation and attract positive attention.
Visitors and locals alike recognize the lake's importance.
Sasha Wright, a tourist visiting after several years, observed the lake's receding water levels and expressed support for restoring and protecting this natural wonder.
Magna resident Sheila Baird said she considers the lake an iconic part of Utah, but has reservations about turning it into a national park, preferring to maintain its pristine state.
The BYU student group's visit to DC allowed them to engage with lawmakers and advocate for the lake's preservation.
Public relations student Angela Larson has been studying the lake with fellow classmates. She told 2News they requested a preliminary survey on the national park designation and received input from Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT).
The lawmaker acknowledged the importance to preserve the lake and mentioned recent efforts to do so. He also expressed reservations about the land becoming federally controlled.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources issued a statement regarding the push.
“As sovereign land, the Great Salt Lake is managed in perpetuity under the principles of the public trust doctrine. A national park designation affords a high level of protection, but so does the public trust doctrine, which also provides protection in perpetuity. The state wholly supports the conservation of the Great Salt Lake and is actively investing in its long-term success. To continue protecting this invaluable resource, the state welcomes additional collaboration with our federal partners," said Ben Stireman, sovereign lands program administrator with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Land.
The students remain steadfast in their goal to preserve the lake for future generations.
According to Larson, their efforts to designate the lake as a national park also received support from Native American leaders with historic and sacred ties to the lake.
“We believe that by making the Great Salt Lake a national park, it'll bring more positive attention to the lake and help Utahns understand some of the things that are affecting the lake and call more positive attention towards it,” said Larson.