FARMINGTON, Utah — A trust created by the Utah State Legislature to help save the Great Salt Lake is now funding efforts to protect critical wetland habitats.

The Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust announced it would fund projects that would protect or restore wetlands around the lake in an effort to help its hydrology. Nonprofit groups, cities or counties could get up to $10 million to help in wetland protection.

"Important habitat for millions of migratory birds and other wildlife and also continue to create that important interface with our communities," said Marcelle Shoop, who is the trust's director and also works for the Audubon Society.

Applications are being taken until Sept. 15 and people can apply directly with the trust.

"We are looking for projects that are very high quality that actually will result in improved habitat, improved wetland functionality," Shoop said.

The Great Salt Lake has benefited from a great winter — rising 5 1/2 feet from its historic low last year. The lake is now declining again as a result of hot temperatures and increased water diversions. A shrinking lake has alarmed state leaders who worry about reduced snowpack and water supply, toxic dust storms, harms to wildlife and public health and billions in negative impact to Utah's economy.

To help refill the lake, the legislature created the trust and tapped the Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy with the goal of securing water for the lake itself. Shoop told FOX 13 News that negotiations are under way with people on water rights. The trust is also taking donations (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently donated water shares to the lake).

"We're still optimistic and again, this year having been a much better water year, has made things available that haven't been," Shoop said. "But there are lots more opportunities that we want to continue to talk to people."

Fox 13 Reporter
Ben Winslow is FOX 13's reporter on Capitol Hill covering a wide variety of topics including politics, polygamy, vice and courts. He has been in the news business in Utah for more than 20 years now, working in radio, newspaper, television and digital news. Winslow has received numerous honors for his reporting, including a national Edward R. Murrow award; the Religion Newswriters Association Local TV News Report of the Year; the Utah Broadcaster's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Readers of Salt Lake City Weekly and Q Salt Lake have named him their "Best TV news reporter" for many years now. He co-hosts "Utah Booze News: An Alcohol Policy Podcast," covering the state's often confusing and quirky liquor laws. Winslow is also known for his very active Twitter account keeping Utahns up-to-date on important news.

Related Articles