New website to increase public involvement with proposed Utah Lake project
Lake Restoration Solutions, or LRS, the company looking to build islands in Utah Lake, recently launched a new website and billboards along I-15, aimed at increasing public awareness and involvement with the project.
The website offers sign-ups for advocacy and volunteer work. Tim Brown, the CEO of the communications team for the company, said they plan to kick off volunteer projects as the weather warms. These projects may include planting beneficial vegetation, and various lake cleanups.
Ben Abbott, an outspoken critic of the project and an assistant professor of aquatic ecology at Brigham Young University worried the website doesn’t provide enough information for people to understand what they’re volunteering for, and called for additional detail.
“That website doesn't provide adequate references, we can't evaluate if the claims that they're making are based in science or just their opinion,” Abbott said. “And so it really didn't look at all like a normal restoration project website. It was much more about marketing and advertising, in my opinion.”
LRS representatives have said they may add information about the dredging and island-building project to the website as time goes on.
This new website is a step to involve the community in LRS’s planned project, but it's unclear if these projects will include any outside groups that have been working on restoration already, such as BYU ecologists, or nonprofits like Conserve Utah Valley. A consistent complaint aimed at LRS is the lack of collaboration with researchers, tribal communities, and existing restoration groups involved with Utah Lake.
Mary Murdock Meyer, the Chief Executive of the Timpanogos Nation, said she has been frustrated with the company’s lack of transparency.
“Without being able to talk to any of the people that are planning on constructing this huge development program. How are we supposed to be able to have an opinion on it?” Meyer said.
The website also points visitors to an FAQ and to LRS’s US Army Corps of Engineers permit proposal released earlier this year. The proposal is currently open for public comments.