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John Hollenhorst reportingIf you like birds, you won't find many places better than this.
CHRIS MONTAGUE/THE NATURE CONSERVANCY: "WE HAVE THE LARGEST POPULATIONS IN THE WORLD OF CERTAIN SPECIES, AS WELL AS HUGE DIVERSITY. THERE'S MORE THAN 280 SPECIES ALL TOGETHER."
It's the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve.
It could just as easily have become Shorelands Estates or some such, a subdivision full of homes and BBQ's and lawnmowers.
But 20 years ago, The Nature Conservancy started buying up chunks of land. Now 4,000 acres, eleven miles of shoreline, are permanently protected.
Nearing completion is a mile-long boardwalk snaking through the marsh.
CHRIS MONTAGUE/THE NATURE CONSERVANCY: "IT'S A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN GET OUT IN THE ENVIRONMENT AND SORT OF FEEL AND HEAR WHAT IT'S LIKE."
A new 30-foot tower offers a rare overview of the extremely flat approaches to the Great Salt Lake.
Utahns haven't always loved the lake. It's locally known for bugs and stink. But now there's hope for a better relationship between the lake and its neighbors.
CHRIS MONTAGUE/THE NATURE CONSERVANCY: "WITHOUT THE SYSTEM, WHICH INCLUDES THE MUD AND THE SMELL AND THE FLIES, WITHOUT THOSE PARTS OF THE SYSTEM, WE DON'T GET THE MILLIONS OF BIRDS THAT WE LIKE TO THINK ABOUT."
JOHN HOLLENHORST/ REPORTING: "THE VISITOR FACILITY IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. IT OPENS TO THE PUBLIC JULY FIRST, BUT EDUCATIONAL EXHIBITS WON'T BE COMPLETED UNTIL NEXT YEAR."
Layton City welcomes the new attraction, even though the preserve limits development.
STEVE HANDY/LAYTON CITY COUNCILMAN: "IN THE BIG SCHEME OF THINGS, QUALITY OF LIFE IS THE REAL ISSUE." (edit) "THIS IS A TERRIFIC, WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR CITY TO BE A GATEWAY OF THIS PRESERVE."
Preservation doesn't come cheap. Conservationist have spent about $12 million to keep this place for the birds.
When the visitor facility opens July 1, it will be open 7 am to 8 pm.
It's located off Gentile Street on 3200 West, just outside Layton.