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Boats put back in Great Salt Lake marina as water levels rise

Posted at 1:35 PM, Jun 06, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A crane lifted boats into their slips at the Great Salt Lake Marina on Tuesday, a sign of the lake's rebounding thanks to an amazing winter with record-breaking snowpack.

The boats were pulled out of the marina in August 2022 as the lake hit a historic low. Through the fall and winter seasons, the marina was empty and the dry ground was a reminder of the peril facing the Great Salt Lake. In April, the marina started to see some life again as the first two sailboats were put back in the marina by their owners.

"While some boats have gone into the marina last month, this is our first big push," said Devan Chavez, a spokesperson for the Utah State Parks system. "Over 30 boats going in there today. This is the boating community's big hurrah. We're back, the Great Salt Lake is open for recreation."

But the lake has now risen five feet since it hit that historic low last year. The Great Salt Lake remains about four feet below what's considered a "healthy range." The lake's dramatic decline came about over years as a result of water diversion, drought and a changing climate. The harms are significant, with harms to wildlife, public health, toxic dust storms and impacts to Utah's economy.

Saving the lake has become a top priority of the public and policy makers, who passed water conservation bills and spent about $1 billion over the past two years on measures still being rolled out.

"It’s very nice to have the boats back again in the water. Last fall, this was just mud," said Jimmy Ludlow, a sailboat owner. "There was no water here. So we’re really fortunate to have as much snowfall as we had this year."

Ludlow called for people to do their part to help the Great Salt Lake.

"Hopefully, we can reduce water usage and kind of contain it. Because there’s a lot of ecosystems, migratory flight paths that rely on this water. It’s fun for us to come and recreate on it, but they need it."

Stunning photos comparing the marina from 2022 and 2023 show the difference the water has made.

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August 2022
Great Salt Lake Drought
Empty boat docks are viewed at the Great Salt Lake Marina, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, near Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake—and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at greatsaltlakenews.org.