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Sovereignty and the Great Salt Lake

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Maggie Christianson

Starting in the summer of 1847 Utah's Great Salt Lake has steadily shrunk leading it to reach a historic low in July of 2022 at 4,190.1ft. 170 years of water level records show that continued diversions from waterways that feed the lake, increased temperatures, and drought have all contributed to the lake's current suboptimal condition. Fears over the outright disappearance of the lake, mimicking the environmental and economic catastrophes that occurred at other drying lakes, have caused Utah residents, researchers, and legislators to open discussions over what can be done to preserve the lake. Our research questions center on recent legislation passed to protect the lake, specifically HB33 which designates water flowing to sovereign lands as a ""beneficial use."" Our questions include: How does HB33 contribute to establish sovereign rights for the Great Salt Lake? How does the Great Salt Lake become a sovereign entity? How do multispecies rights become legalized through the aridification of the Great Salt Lake? Employing an interdisciplinary approach, our project seeks to understand the relationship between environmental crises such as the aridification of the Great Salt Lake, the scientific communication with broader publics about this environmental crisis, and the public's response to that communication. This project's methods include surveying, interviewing relevant stakeholders, analyzing legislative measures and laws, and using GIS modeling to understand how scientific communication translates to broader audiences.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #C51
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: April Reber