What is the Great Salt Lake Collaborative? News agencies work together

Do you feel like you’ve read/seen/heard more news about the Great Salt Lake in the last few months than in so many years?

you are not wrong

It’s been about 10 months since a group of news outlets, educators, experts and community organizations – 23 strong – boarded a rather unprecedented ship to cover the lake together. Together, and with the support of the Solutions Journalism Network, we’ve shared more than 150 stories, conducted guided tours of the lake, compiled an anthology of lake-inspired literature, and hosted community talks.

You’ll know all about the problems Utah faces when the Great Salt Lake is in distress, leaving toxic dust beneath a thin layer of the parched lake floor as the waters recede.

Dangerous air quality. collapse of the industry. suffering species. Disturbed Environments.

But more than that, we want to report on ways to help.


Like the conservation successes in Nevada, reported by Fox 13 News’ Ben Winslow and Utah Public Radio’s Sheri Quinn. Label: “Found solutions for Great Salt Lake in Sin City? What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas.”

Or the compelling and compelling stories that emerged from a joint reporting trip by Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, and Fox 13 News to California, uncovering the pitfalls and solutions in that state’s Mono and Owens salt flats (or the dry, dusty lake bed, where formerly Owens Lake).


Salt Lake Tribune reporter Leia Larsen conducts an interview near Mono Lake, California on August 9, 2022.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

These stories were published and broadcast by collaborators, including here on Deseret.com, for a wide audience to learn from.

So what do we hope happens now?

We want the readers/viewers/listeners of our various outlets to feel hope that the Great Salt Lake can recover, not just long enough to avert disaster, but for the long term. One reader of our coverage from California called the work “the most hopeful story I’ve read about the disaster that struck the Great Salt Lake.” Another Las Vegas Project reader let us know, “I was interested because I need weed.”

We wanted that!

And we want the heads of state, policy makers and interest groups – as our friends at Utah Jazz say – to take notice. View the community’s investments in healing the lake, learn from the solutions we report on and seek our own. This problem is too big and too complex to simply emulate a strategy or two used elsewhere – we must also find our own answers.

At his Great Salt Lake Summit in October, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson cited the Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll showing that 80% of Utahns are concerned about what is happening to the Great Salt Lake. The voices calling for support for the lake are being heard.

This is the message the Great Salt Lake Collaborative shared with Current’s “Local that Works” contest, an event that “highlights exceptional content and engagement projects that other media organizations can replicate or scale.” And in an online event and vote Thursday, the Great Salt Lake Collaborative was named the grand prize winner of the contest, which will be used to continue and expand our work.

Those watching the live stream agreed:

“I love this collaboration with multiple stations in Great Salt Lake. So effective.”

“Cooperation eats competition for breakfast.”

“Beating great salty waves of solutions in Great Salt Lake!”

Heather May, project manager for the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, told host Mariana Dale that other communities can take a collaborative, solution-based approach to their own unique challenges.

“I think every community is concerned with environmental change and that’s why I think you should pick your own nasty problem and find passionate partners. And I think the focus on solutions has brought hope to the community, which I think everyone is yearning for,” May said.

Are efforts to help the Great Salt Lake working? We think so. And we hope that over time this first trickle of ideas and solutions will become a flood.

The low elevation Great Salt Lake retreating from Antelope Island with an exposed lake bed.

Record low water levels will be observed in the Great Salt Flat of Antelope Island on Friday, July 22, 2022.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News


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