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President of the University of Utah Taylor Randall hopes that universities will be able to learn about the Great Salt Lake

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Against the backdrop of scenic Farmington, state legislators, the president of the state’s flagship university, scientists, scholars and advocates shared ideas on next steps to protect the Great Salt Lake, which is under threat.

House Speaker Brad Wilson said the preservation of the lake was personal because he lived next to it and recreated it all his life.

As a legislative leader, he feels an even greater need to keep the lake shrinking, reaching its historic low last year. The drought-affected lake has significant health, environmental and economic consequences for Utah, he said.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers have passed bills to help the lake flowincluding new access to water rights, more secondary accounting to better understand how water is currently used, and allocated tens of millions of dollars just to rehabilitate the habitat of the Great Salt Lake.

But Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Leighton, acknowledge what still needs to be done.

“In my place, what would you do to make sure we are ready for the next general session, with the right policies, the right budget priorities? What would this process look like? ” Wilson, R.-Cavesville, asked the participants of the joint dinner Eccles Wildlife Education Center.

Lunch and conversation were part of a bus tour by Utah State President Taylor Randall from north to south this summer. He began the first phase of the tour in northern Utah. Other stages of the tour include southern Utah, Utah, Tuel County and Eastern Utah.

One of the goals of the tour is to show the partnership and cooperation of the United States with other public colleges and universities in an attempt to reconsider the unique role of the university in Utah and reconsider it, university officials said.

The conservation, restoration, and protection of the Great Salt Lake is a prime example of how collaboration between public higher education institutions can help better identify the parameters of a problem and evaluate possible solutions.

“While we’ve been discussing this issue, it’s so complex. It turns out you need a set of different experts to get together, and we certainly have a lot of them at the University of Utah, ”but they’re not all at the University, he said in an afternoon interview.

“They really lie in different institutions of the state. So our idea is that this is one of the big joint efforts. We can accept the complexity of problem experts in every field in every dimension of the problem, but then they will be able to see the whole picture together, perhaps for the first time. And then, I hope you come up with something that works for Utah and politicians, ”he said.

Thursday’s tour, which began in Logan and also included stops in Roy and Ogden, ended with alumni dinner at Union Grill.

Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said lawmakers needed accurate data to help them describe the constituent state of the Great Salt Lake and how much water is needed to save it.

Jack Ray, president of the Utah Waterfowl Association and chairman of the Great Salt Lake Alliance, said there are two ways to approach policy toward the lake.

“First, you’re trying to get people to save water and hope that at the end of the day the lake will be flowing enough for everything to be fine,” he said.

Another option is to allocate enough water for the lake, which means that Utah residents will learn to manage the rest of the water that is not released into the lake.

Ray said there is a template for that. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the state took the initiative to protect wetland habitats and recreational opportunities along the eastern shore of the lake.

The enduring legacy of these efforts is “beautiful, mostly necklaces, around the east shore of the lake,” he said.

“Maybe that’s what we need to do with water, and then we don’t care so much about the endless population growth. We have set aside so much water, and we know we got it, and that answers some questions, ”he said.

Several participants stated that educating the Utah population and students about the lake and the need to save water is also important.

A spokesman for Timothy Hawks, R-Centerville, said that after a large brown spot formed on his lawn last summer, he placed a sign in his yard that read “Proud of Drought.”

This year, as he drove around his neighborhood, he noticed that almost every lawn has a brown spot because people have taken the idea that it’s okay if their lawns aren’t green.

“Social expectations have changed so quickly,” he said.

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