Stegner Center 28th Annual Symposium: “The Future of the Great Salt Lake”

Apr 01, 2023 | GSL Project

The Stegner Center’s 28th annual symposium on March 16-17, 2023, addressed the plight of the Great Salt Lake. One of the world’s largest hypersaline lakes, the Great Salt Lake is on the verge of collapse due to climate change, drought, and population pressures that have reduced inflows and shrunk the lake by more than two-thirds. The Great Salt Lake has lately captured considerable media attention, not only locally, but nationally and internationally. Given its unique nature, the shrinking lake presents grave risks to human health—referred to by the New York Times as “Utah’s environmental nuclear bomb”—linked to toxic dust clouds blowing shoreward from a desiccated lakebed.

Day one reviewed the state of the lake and factors leading to its decline, and then considered the risks to human health and to the millions of migratory birds dependent on the lake, along with the economic implications, if this important ecosystem collapses. Day two focused on solutions to preserve the lake with presentations by scientists, water policy experts, key political figures, community leaders, and others.

The symposium brought together over 35 speakers, who addressed a sold-out audience in person and a large audience online.

The symposium in its entirety will be released in the near future, and the following presentations from keynote speakers and Stegner Lecturers are available now on the S.J. Quinney College of Law YouTube channel:

A Perspective from the Governor’s Office (Keynote)
Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox

Great Salt Lake: The Key to Our Past and Future (Keynote)
Brad Wilson, Speaker of the House, Utah House of Representative

What’s at Stake? (Keynote)
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall

A Perspective from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Keynote)
Christopher Waddell, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Framing the Problem: Causes and Consequences of a Shrinking Great Salt Lake (Stegner Lecture)
Kevin D. Perry, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah

The Great Salt Lake Food Chains: Fragility and Resiliency (Stegner Lecture)
Bonnie K. Baxter, Ph.D., Director, Great Salt Lake Institute; Professor of Biology, Westminster College

For additional information on the symposium, including an agenda and speaker biographies, please visit the Symposium Website.