For the Great Salt Lake, it might be now or never.
Utah lawmakers have mounted emergency rescue plans for the Great Salt Lake, which is on the verge of ecological collapse. Before the legislative session opened on Tuesday, scientists and conservationists issued the most dire warning yet over the lake’s future, saying “the lake as we know it is on track to disappear in five years” if losses continue at their recent pace.
The lake is shrinking, but even more urgent is its changing salinity. The lake has grown so salty that creatures at the base of its food web, such as brine flies, which have adapted to survive extreme conditions, are disappearing.
Still, the recipe is right for a comeback as state lawmakers begin their 45-day legislative session.
“We’re at a crossroads on the lake itself,” said Joel Ferry, the executive director of the state department of natural resources. “Are we willing to accept the lake is not going to be productive? That we’re going to have dust storms and an ecosystem not thriving and in collapse? We’re not willing to do that as a people and a state.”