ANTELOPE ISLAND Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed an executive order Monday creating an advisory council to come up with a vision for how best to manage, protect and package the Great Salt Lake.
Huntsman called the lake an amazing resource, one in which so many have a stake.
"It's exotic, it's beautiful, it's under-appreciated," Huntsman said at Antelope Island State Park. "And it lends itself to a multiplicity of uses."
The 12 members of the council come from diverse groups: business, conservation, state and local government and academia and expect to begin meeting in early September.
Huntsman said he expects the council's initial recommendation by December. He's asking council members to "bring their expertise to table and look beyond their current positions.
"The purpose of our gathering today is to chart a course for how best to utilize and preserve the values as we see them today with an eye for the future potential of this great body of water," Huntsman said.
Council members include Sen. Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful, who will remain as council chairman once his legislative term expires in December, and Rep. Ben Ferry, R-Corinne.
Representing conservationists are Lynn de Freitas, executive director of Friends of Great Salt Lake, Dave Livermore, Utah state director for The Nature Conservancy, and author, birder and naturalist Bill Fenimore, who runs Wild Bird Center of Layton.
Local government representatives include Kaysville Mayor Neka Roundy, who also supervises tourism in Davis County's Community and Economic Development office, Wilf Sommerkorn, planning director for Salt Lake City, Tooele County Commissioner Colleen Johnson, and Leland Myers general manager of the Central Davis Sewer District.
Rounding out the council are Bonnie Baxter, a professor of biology at Westminster College, Don Leonard, president of the Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, and Corey Milne, site manager for Great Salt Lake Minerals Corp.
De Freitas says she hopes the council can improve the way people regard the lake and come up with effective management tools for it.
Myers said he hopes the council can agree that any determinations need to based on science and not opinion. Science will help determine what water quality standards should be applied to the lake and what a healthy Great Salt Lake should look like, he said.
There will likely be a need to fund the research needed to protect the lake, Myers said.
"It's been underfunded for, oh, as long as we've been here," he said.Baxter, who has been getting interested parties together through the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster, said she's excited about the creation of this council. She hopes one day to see the construction of a visitor center near the south shore of the lake near Interstate 80 and is interested to see how emerging technologies may be able to use the lake.