Stegner Symposium to focus on Great Salt Lake’s future

Feb 25, 2023 | General

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

Date: Thursday, March 16 – Friday, March 17, 2023

Location: The College of Law on the University of Utah campus (virtual attendance option also available)

Registration: Register here

The crisis of the Great Salt Lake takes center stage at the 28th Annual Wallace Stegner Center Symposium, convened by the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment. The symposium will convene experts and stakeholders from across Utah to explore the causes and implications of the unprecedented decline of the Great Salt Lake—as well as possible solutions.

Speakers will include Spencer Cox, Utah governor; Brad Wilson, speaker of the Utah House of Representatives; Erin Mendenhall, mayor of Salt Lake City, and Christopher Waddell, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A full list of speakers is available here.

The Great Salt Lake is at a tipping point. The lake has fallen to its lowest levels on record and has lost nearly two thirds of its area—a crisis stemming from overallocation of the rivers that feed it, a booming population along the Wasatch Front, and the megadrought gripping the U.S. West.

The consequences of these changes will be far-reaching and profound. The lake’s unique ecosystem is already beginning to collapse, threatening the ten million migratory birds that depend on it. Toxic dust blown from the exposed lakebed could poison the air for millions of people living in Utah’s biggest population centers. In a very real way, the future of the state as a whole is directly linked to the future of the lake.

In response to this crisis, the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment will host a two-day symposium, “The Future of the Great Salt Lake,” on March 16 and 17, 2023. This is the Stegner Center’s 28th annual symposium—a yearly event that brings together scholars, policymakers, scientists and community leaders to address some of the most pressing and complex environmental issues we face.

This year’s Stegner Symposium will feature experts and leaders in a wide range of fields, all integral to a sustainable and healthy future for the Great Salt Lake. Speakers include state and local government officials, legal scholars and practitioners, scientists, and environmental advocacy groups, as well as leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, local tribes, and the industries that utilize the lake and its inflows.

Over the two-day symposium, speakers will discuss the decline of the lake and the associated risks to human and environmental health, as well as its economic implications. They will also draw on their wide-ranging expertise to explore possible solutions to preserve the lake.

“The Stegner Center is pleased to host such a timely gathering of experts and leaders to focus the future of the Great Salt Lake,” said Robert Keiter, director of the Stegner Center and the Wallace Stegner Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. “The symposium is a unique opportunity to bring together many of those whose perspectives and involvement we cannot do without on this issue. It’s an example of the dialogue and collaboration that will be essential in developing and implementing meaningful solutions—for the benefit of all of us.”

More information about the event, speakers, and registration is available here.