Bugs and brine: feelings probed about Great Salt Lake

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  • terra nova Park City, UT
    Sept. 22, 2011 1:54 a.m.

    I have flown over the lake hundreds of times from north to south and east to west. The change of color from the north (fresher) side to the saltier south-side is chemistry in motion.

    Been out to Salt Air. The old girl is a sad caricature of itself. Not much to recommend it. The marina's fortunes seem to ebb and flow with the lake depth. The salt flats on the way to Wendover always make me want to go faster. It is astonishing how far the lake can spread with as little as one additional foot of depth. Some company is mining the flats and, because of government inattention and corporate greed, they are not fixing the damage correctly. If it keeps up, the salt flats will disappear someday.

    But the northwest side of the lake, the side almost no one goes to, is remarkable for its silence and an emptiness that thrums with energy so slight, so lonely, so solemn and solitary, so close to the ground that it is radiant - even electric with tiny crystalline refractions - rainbows in salt dust rising and falling; the dry breath of angels waiting to take a loved one home.

  • aghast SYRACUSE, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 4:51 p.m.

    I live out by the lake. I believe in human management - I think we could do a better job of managing property close to the lake - that isn't really good for subdivisions, and we could better manage fresh water that goes into the lake - conserving it for better use. Personally, I would like to see the area of the lake from the Antelope Causeway to the causeway that years ago went from the Magna smelter to the island become fresh water. This year the River Jordan contributed plenty of it.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 3:43 p.m.

    Amazing the lack of knowledge about the lake and its famous odor. Which odor has nothing to do with man. When organic materials such as reeds and rushes settle to the bottom of the lake, they start to decompose. When the winds stir up the lake it moves these decomposing materials and releases methane into the air. Depending on which way the wind blows, determines who gets hit with the smell.

    Take a walk on the beaches of Antelope Island, on a cold November morning, no flies, just the sound of seagulls in the air.

    When the lake was high, it was great fun to go to the south marina, when a strong northwester blows in. The waves would crash over the breakwaters.

    Forty feet out from the shore and the brine flies are few and far between.

    In April and May, Saturdays and Sundays, the beaches on Antelope Island are as crowded as a California beach.

    But it is good that a lot of people have the opinions they have, I wouldn't want any more crowds than what are there already.

  • Unwell Canton, MA
    Sept. 21, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    I used to absolutely adore the Great Salt Lake. In many ways I still do. My first real love of it came after I atteded a concert at Salt Air back in 1998, and since drove back to that area many times to escape the burdens of every day things. I hadn't ever been to the ocean, so the smell of the air and the vast open water was my version of it. The sunsets are stunning, I've spent many many evenings toughing out the mosquitos to capture wonderful moments. I love the smell (til it gets really bad), the grasses and how they move in the breeze...I really think it's a lovely area.

    It sadly has gone downhill though, ever since the last truly great Salt Air burned down and the floods happened.

    I have since moved far away and now live by the Atlantic Ocean, but sometimes still think about my little inland sea back home.

  • WestGranger West Valley City, Utah
    Sept. 21, 2011 11:14 a.m.

    After 30-40 years went to the lake. Drove across the causeway to the Island and saw once of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Once we got to the island we went to the beach and enjoyed floating in the lake. Walking out to the water was hard on the feet. However the had showers and a small eatery which was nice. The Visitor's center was nice and we were able to see bison up close. This part of the lake is great.Didn't stink.It did smell a little on the causeway. Talked to people from all around the world who loved it. Utahns are missing out!

  • justaguy Out There in, WI
    Sept. 21, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    I spent most of my growing up years in Davis County and never gave the lake a moment's thought. I've still never been to the island, even though I had relatives that lived just off the road out to the island. I've always thought of it as something that was out there but without any real use or value, atleast not enough to ever make me want to spend any time there. The only time I was ever really aware of it was in 1983 (I think) when the water level rose so much it reached I-15 in Centerville. Then I was just glad I didn't live any closer to it than I did.

  • desert dweller SAINT GEORGE, UT
    Sept. 21, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    the last time we were there the place didnt smell ( it stunk ) we turned around and left right away -- never go there again the best thing to do is hope it dries up and use it as a landfill

  • Richard Allan Jenni Ocean City, NJ
    Sept. 21, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    In 1972 our growing family lived in Magna, and our two-year old son Christian, now US Army Major Christian Jenni and veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, would often go with me to Black Rock. The water was lower then and absolutely pristine. There was no muck whatsoever, and my feet loved the sandy bottom. Christian would ride on my shoulders and spot antique soda bottles below- and we'd dip beneath the brine to retrieve them. We still have a few of those precious bottles. We loved the beach at Black Rock- the vast waves of little black flies notwithstanding. The salt air was marvelous beyond description- and the only other living things in the lake were the multitudinous brine shrimp. We hauled away several garbage cans of broken glass from that beach- and how I ever hefted them into the trunk of our ancient Mercedes now puzzles me. A labor of love- and I was younger then.

    Anyway, visiting Utah in August, 1994, I waded into my beloved Great Salt Lake. My heart sank as I sunk into the muck- the purity of the salt air gone- replaced by miasmic fumes from what man has done...