UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Plans to build islands as part of the Utah Lake Restoration Project are moving forward. The US Army Corps of Engineers publicly released the permit application and now starts a lengthy review process.
The president of Lake Restoration Solutions says some people are misunderstanding their purpose.
“This is a beautiful beach, we’ve actually done a lot of work here to remove the invasive phragmites,” said Jon Benson, President, Lake Restoration Solutions.
Benson has been working on this project for the past 4 years.
“It’s my dream job to be a part of restoring Utah lake, this is something we can leave behind for our kids and our grandkids to enjoy,” said Benson.
He says the project aims to fully restore the lake’s ecosystem.
“The crux of the plan is to dredge the lake-bed, which is contaminated with nutrient loaded sediments that have been there over the course of many decades from neglect and abuse that the lake has suffered,” said Benson.
The dredged material will be placed in newly formed containment areas or islands and there will be about 36 of them.
A map with the permit shows what they envision it will look like. There could be development, and the map shows some roads.
“And then we can use those islands for wildlife refuge, for recreation, which is a great public amenity, and for community islands to pay for the project,” said Benson.
But those community islands don’t float everyone’s boat. Conserve Utah Valley argues dredging the lake and building these islands will alter the chemistry of the lake. It’s one of several examples of why they oppose this project.
“I think people have misunderstood the purpose of this project; they think this is about building islands and communities on the lake, that’s really not our purpose, our purpose is to rebuild the lake and make it a resource again,” said Benson.
It could take some time for the US Army Corps of Engineers to give the thumbs up or thumbs down to the project.
“I wouldn’t say that stands in the way, I’d say that enables the project, if it’s a good project which we believe it is of course, but we need to prove that to the regulators to the public through this process, and so that’s our hurdle but that’s a good thing,” said Benson.
On Monday, February 7, there will be a rally held by Conserve Utah Lake on the Capitol steps at 5pm. Supporters say this will be to support Utah Lake during the legislative session.