Great Salt Lake’s Greatest Source of Water

The Ogden-Standard Examiner's look at Utah's Bear River.

The Bear River is one of the most important sources of water for Great Salt Lake. And as Leia Larsen writes in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, “the Bear River supports life and livelihoods.”

This includes the millions of waterfowl and shorebirds that visit the wetlands of Bear River Bay and Willard Spur.

Marcelle Shoop, Audubon’s director of the Saline Lakes Program told Larsen: "Bear River is such a critical life-giving source for people and wildlife — all along its path — and ultimately as the greatest source of water for Great Salt Lake.”

As Larsen reports, some 60 percent of Great Salt Lake’s inflows come from Bear River. But this fall, “the river instead disappeared into a vast mudflat that used to be Bear River Bay.” And that meant dramatically fewer birds showed up in early fall this year.

Increased water demand from a growing population, in combination with drought and changing climate, can degrade ecosystems in and around Great Salt Lake, a critical stopover point for birds migrating across the desert West. Audubon is working to protect Great Salt Lake, its wetlands, and its water sources like Bear River.

To read the story, visit The Standard-Examiner website. Larsen wrote a four-part series on Bear River. To read more: see Chapter 1Chapter 2, or Chapter 3.