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Demonstrators rally at Capitol Hill to protest plans for Utah Lake restoration project

Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 23:54:15-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of people stood on the steps of Utah’s Capitol Hill on Monday to rally against dredging Utah Lake and creating islands and development around it.

Protesters say the permit application sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week has raised even more questions and concerns.

The proposed plan will dredge the lake bed and then use the material to create around 36 “islands.” The plan also shows roads and potential for development.

READ: Plans to build islands in Utah Lake as part of restoration project move forward

Jerry Johnson, a BYU biology professor, said there are ecological concerns for the lake’s fish and wildlife.

“It’s still really unclear how such aggressive human intervention would do something to restore something to its natural state,” said Johnson.

For others, protecting the lake goes beyond science and biology. Mary Murdock Meyer, chief executive of the Timpanogos Nation, said the body of water is historic and sacred.

“It’s been something that’s a life-giving force. It kept our people alive for years. The fish. The water. The foliage,” she said.

She said that over the past year, she’s shared her worries with a planner working on the Utah Lake Restoration Project.

“He assures me they are concerned with restoring the lake,” she said. “But restoration means to put it back like it was.”

Jon Benson, president of Lake Restoration Solutions, was unavailable the day of the rally to comment in-person. He sent a statement to FOX 13 News, saying, “Interest in Utah Lake has perhaps never been higher. We too are passionate about this incredible resource and believe that all can agree that Utah Lake needs help.”

Last week, he met up with FOX 13 News to explain the project he’s spent four years working on.

“I think people have misunderstood the purpose of this project; they think this is about building islands and communities on the lake," Benson said. "That’s really not our purpose — our purpose is to rebuild the lake and make it a resource again."