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Great Salt Lake is at its lowest water level on record and continues to shrink. Utah Public Radio has teamed up with more than a dozen Utah organizations for the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a group that has come together to share multimedia stories and rigorous reports about the lake and ways to protect this critical body of water before it's too late.

Could Utah children help shape the destiny of ailing Great Salt Lake?

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UPR
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UPR

To save the Great Salt Lake is to know its worth. To know its worth is to be educated about why it matters.

For 16 years, The Nature Conservancy has introduced the value of the Great Salt Lake and its vast wetlands and uplands to 22,000 fourth graders from six school districts.

Called Wings & Water, the program is among many educational outreach efforts offered by varying groups to get youth acquainted with the unique ecological features offered by the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere and the eighth largest in the world.

“Wings & Water is one way to get those students out there to create a relationship with the lake. I do think these students revisit and have a sense of place with the Great Salt Lake,” said Andrea Nelson, community outreach coordinator with The Nature Conservancy.

This week marks the official return of the program after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Equals Enlightenment

A busload of children from Davis County visited Tuesday, and on Wednesday, 80 students from Creekside Elementary were able to explore the marshes and the visitor center at the conservancy’s 4,400-acre Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve in west Layton on the eastern shores of the Great Salt Lake.

The lake is shrinking, having reached its historic low last year. More than 800 square miles of lakebed have been exposed and a critical, complex ecosystem is in trouble.

As the lake struggles, so does the industry it supports, the millions of birds that visit, and its economic might of $1.3 billion in annual contributions to Utah’s economy is in jeopardy.

You can link to the original article in Deseret News here.

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake — and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late.