Great Salt Lake Wetlands Rejuvenated with Water

Great Salt Lake Wetlands Rejuvenated with Water

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Jed Boal ReportingMore than 250 species of birds call the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake home. Millions of shore birds and water fowl come through these wetlands each year.

Val Bachman, Supervisor of Water Fowl Management Areas: "It was the first major wetland restoration project in the nation."

Val Bachman has worked the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area more than 25 years. This year, there's new life after years of drought.

Val Bachman, Supervisor of Water Fowl Management Areas: "You've seen the area expand tenfold with what is available to wildlife."

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources manages 400-thousand acres of wetlands there. The combined flow of the Ogden and Weber Rivers moves through the gates and on to the Great Salt Lake.

Val Bachman, Supervisor of Water Fowl Management Areas: "Everything from the Great Salt Lake to Wyoming. It's a huge water system."

With bypass gates, the DWR does what nature has done for thousands of years, spread the water out.

Phil Douglass, Division of Wildlife Resources: "Just here at Ogden Bay alone, there's 37,000 acres of wetlands that the water is diffused and spread out."

And it reduces potential flooding upstream.

Val Bachman, Supervisor of Water Fowl Management Areas: "At this point here, we're just trying to get rid of it away from the farms and houses as quick as we can."

The wetlands are also nature's water filter. The floodwaters sweep all of our industrial, mining and agricultural pollutants, and bring them down here, where the water spreads them out over a vast area, where all of those pollutants will dissipate and filter down through the soil.

This area has not had water in 10 years. Now aquatic plants are growing again.

Val Bachman: "Imagine a whole series of new restaurants and grocery stores advertising free food. As the human population would respond immediately, so do wildlife."

So the birds flock to the food produced by the flood. The wetlands also help spread out tons of silt flushed down the streams.

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