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Lake Effect: what does Great Salt Lake mean to you?

Ellis: In light of a shrinking Great Salt Lake, news, education and media organizations have teamed up across Utah to form the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism-based initiative aiming to inform the public about the crisis facing Great Salt Lake.

I'm Ellis Juhlin.

Aimee: And I'm Aimee Van Tatenhove. We're science reporters at Utah Public Radio, and we've been reporting on Great Salt Lake since it hit a record low last summer. Through this work, we realized that everybody has a story about the lake and what it means to them.

This is Lake Effect, an ongoing series that will share these stories.

Ellis: We thought for this first episode, we would share our stories. So Aimee, what does Great Salt Lake mean to you?

Aimee: To me, it means American white pelicans. So in addition to working at UPR, I'm a PhD student at Utah State University studying white pelicans around Great Salt Lake. So to me, Great Salt Lake means early mornings, smelling the sulfur wetland stink walk through my truck windows on the wind, cleaning silt from under my fingernails for weeks after being elbow deep in the Great Salt Lake mud, and of course, a sense of accomplishment at the end of every successful field day studying these giant and incredibly goofy waterbirds.

So Ellis, what does Great Salt Lake mean to you?

Ellis: To me, Great Salt Lake is seeing birds sometimes by the thousands and feeling like you're stepping into a scene in the middle of a nature documentary, where you have this ecosystem living and breathing all around you, and you get to just be in it, and experience it, and see it. Last weekend I was at Antelope Island and I saw ravens playing in the sky, flipping upside down and free falling until they caught a thermal, and I just think that that's what it is. It's…it's this place where the natural world is so clearly there.

Aimee: We hope this series inspires you to reflect on your own experiences with the lake, where we can appreciate what this water body means to us as individuals and to Utah as a whole.

This is Lake Effect from the Great Salt Lake Collaborative. Stay salty, Utah!

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.
Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!