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Jason Olson, Deseret News
Four-year-old Charity Cross looks over the railing of a boat that shares her name, the Charity Eden, as it heads out for a tour of Utah Lake on Saturday.

PROVO — Three-year-old Amanda Desjardins looked intently at the blue kiddie pool full of dozens of wriggling goldfish.

"I want orange," she told her mom, eliminating only two or three brown fish from selection.

Once clutching a water-filled baggy with her fish, she was asked what she would name it.

"Snowball," she answered matter-of-factly.

Amanda was one of hundreds of children who attended the Utah Lake Festival Saturday at the Utah Lake State Park in Provo, winning goldfish, getting their faces painted and eating free popcorn and hot dogs — all in the name of ecological education and increased Utah Lake participation.

"It's (a chance) to educate the parents while the kids have fun," said Alison Spencer, whose boys, 6-year-old Jonathan and 5-year-old Samuel, were wearing fish-shaped hats and eagerly scouting out their next activity.

While the kids played, Spencer and her husband, Robert, learned about composting, the Sierra Club and other activities available on Utah Lake. There were also boat tours, fishing workshops and and a Utah Lake movie.

Normally the Spencers come to the lake for bird watching, but after Saturday, they'll be back for other activities.

"The kids rented the fishing poles and now they want to fish," Alison Spencer said.

The fourth annual Utah Lake Festival started out chilly Saturday morning but warmed up for the more than 1,000 people strolling around from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Four-year-old Charity Cross stayed busy painting a frozen tilapia pink, yellow and purple, then pink again. When she was done, festival workers laid a piece of paper over the fish to create a fish print.

Ron Phillips brought grandkids Hattie, 3, Mandy, 6, Hollis, 9, and Maren, 11, who each made necklaces with leather pendants featuring fish, pheasants or deer.

"I think it's a wonderful resource for the whole county," Phillips said of the lake. "It needs to be protected." He said he is glad to see the lake shore areas were being taken care of, including wildlife habitats.

And that's just what Reed Harris wants to hear. Harris is the director of the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program — a group dedicated to saving an endangered species of fish found in Utah Lake.

The June sucker is being threatened by the common carp — 7 million to 8 million bottom-feeding fish. In order to save the June sucker and its Utah Lake home, the carp must go, and the group is hoping this year to pull out 5 million pounds, Harris said.

Getting rid of the carp will encourage more swimmers, boaters and skiers, because carp stir up the nutrient-rich bottom of the lake, which clouds the water and gives off a false perception of pollution.

"A lot of people have a negative perception of Utah Lake that's undeserved," said Reed Price, executive director of the Utah Lake Commission, a newly formed council working to create a master plan for the lake. "(They need) to come down and enjoy it. It's fantastic. We need to get them here rather than having them just discuss it."


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com