Great Salt Lake

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Bringing back the River Jordan

Utah is contemplating restoring one of its great, but polluted, urban rivers - if it can find the money and leadership to do it. The Jordan River flows from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake, through 15 cities in three counties, writes Jeremiah Stettler of the Salt Lake Tribune. Along the way, it's been used as a dumping ground for everything from city sewers to slaughterhouses.

Now river advocates want to find a way to turn it back into a recreational and wildlife haven with bike paths, open space and clean water.

Urban restorations are notoriously difficult and complex. Look no further than Seattle's own Duwamish waterway, one of the country's largest Superfund sites, and the focus of much debate and effort over how to reclaim that historic river.

Other cities, including Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, and San Jose have struggled with their own urban river politics.

These rivers, and there are many more like them, are important symbols. What happens to a river when it runs through a community speaks loudly about who lives there -both then, and now.

Carol Smith's picture

Great Salt Lake bird habitat springs to life

It took nearly three centuries to happen, but a migrating bird - a Wilson's phalarope --  landed on flowing water Wednesday at the site of what had for 2,600 years been a dried up river delta on the edge of the Great Salt Lake.

 Tom Wharton of the Salt Lake Tribune writes that the release of water through new floodgates on the National Audubon Society's 2,738p-acre South Shore Preserve created the new wetlands. The effort required the coming together of diverse interests, including local governments, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, hunters, landowners, and conservationists.  For birders, it was a moment of exhilaration.

The newly flooded area is expected to be a stopping point for millions of shorebirds that migrate through Utah.