- The Great Salt Lake is typical of Great Basin
and other arid land saline lakes in morphological and
chemical characteristics. As with other terminal
lakes, the level of Great Salt Lake is determined by
the variable weather patterns that are typical of
arid and semi-arid regions. Because of it's flat,
gradually sloping basin, the lake's depth is normally
less than 35 feet; this means that a small
fluctuation in level inundates or exposes large
amounts of land.
Such natural conditions present special problems
for the land use planner and natural resources
manager. The region's history is pervaded with
frustrated attempts to develop the shores of the lake
for recreation, wildlife, and industry.
This study examines human response to climatic
variability and the problem of fluctuating lake
level. It reviews the history of Great Salt Lake
shoreline land use from the first settlers' arrival
in the Salt Lake Valley to the recent flooding event
of the 1980's, and reviews historic and present
perceptions and attitudes about the Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake level has been perceived as
stable, and until the West Desert Pumping Project
decision makers responded to immediate crises rather than potentially long-term lake level rises. The
pumping project represents the first attempt to deal
with the issue of longer-term lake level rise.
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