Opinion: Utah’s wetlands deserve as much public support as our canyons

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Without knowing a place intimately, how can one act on its behalf?

(Rick Egan | Salt Lake Tribune) Photographed at the Great Salt Lake Wetland on Tuesday, September 5, 2023.

This semester, as part of my environmental writing department at the University of Utah, I have been studying the Utah Inland Port Authority’s (UIPA) decision to move the Golden Spike Inland Harbor half a mile from the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. On the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake. Although I wanted to understand why this project was approved. Serious environmental concerns Regarding the impact on wetlands.

When I began my research, I had never visited the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge or spent much time in the Great Salt Lake area. I knew that construction in general affects ecosystems, but I had a hard time visualizing the specific impact on the shelter. I didn’t feel connected to the wetlands, and I wondered how common this disconnect was. How many of us who live on the Wasatch Front notice when the UIPA builds warehouses along the banks of the GSL or when migratory birds stop nesting there? Perhaps one of the reasons why the location of Golden Spike’s inland harbor was chosen was its indifference to wetlands.

I once shared this indifference. I moved to Utah in 2020 with the broader goal of spending more time outdoors. I mostly ignored wetlands, and instead prioritized alpine areas like Little Cottonwood Canyon, where I worked for two winters and created year-round. I am pleased with its pink Indian paint brush and sparkling lakes; Admired by snowy peaks and majestic granite. When I heard about the UDOT plan Build a gondola At the top of the canyon, I could clearly see how the support towers stood. Average height 169 feet, changes the nature of the land. I was horrified to think how much earth and rock had to be moved to erect the walls and how much debris would enter the swift waters of Little Cottonwood Creek.

My concern for Little Cottonwood Canyon stems from my relationship with it. It is a form of ecological compassion. This concept was introduced to me by author and plant ecologist Robin Wall Kimmer, in her book “Braid Sweetgrass” he wrote: “The circle of ecological empathy we feel is augmented by direct experience of the living world and is diminished by its lack.

Wrinkled with want. Without knowing a place intimately, how can one act on its behalf?

Compared to my relationship with Little Cottonwood, my relationship with wetlands seems sadly surface-level. But now is the time of need for wetlands, as are canyons. As the GSL is declining, the wetlands are threatened with extinction. To add insult to injury, UIPA plans to build not only Golden Spike Several inland port locations Near both Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake. Stop Port Pollution, an anti-UIPA advocacy group, released a Report In the year 6 November UIPA states that it is the single biggest threat to GSL wetlands, although they New wetland conservation policy.

Stop Pollution Harbor indicates that many of the UIPA project sites encroach on GSL edge habitats, which support a greater diversity of birds than open water. Not only do ports directly displace bird habitat, but their construction also causes increased stormwater runoff, light and noise pollution, and large truck and locomotive emissions.

While UIPA He writes on their website Utah is uniquely positioned for growth because it is “at the crossroads of the American West,” says Stop Pollution Harbor. on both the Pacific and Central Flyways.

UIPA jeopardizes the future of Avian in the pursuit of economic growth. And it’s not just birds that stand to die. Wetlands are one of the planet’s most productive and diverse habitats, serving important ecological functions as water filters and carbon sinks.

In the last few months I started getting opportunities to visit the wetlands of GSL. The more I got to know them, the more they and their crew members captivated my imagination. They’re not without their problems (read: bugs!), but by refusing to hide from us, nature forces us to take a step away from our human-centered worldview.

UIPA’s port development plans deserve a public outpouring of support for wetlands. And the flash of support is a direct experience. I say let’s watch the sunset from Antelope Island. Take a bike ride or hike on a gravel path in the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area. Watch the tundra swan migration pass the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. In the approach of winter, mosquitoes are not so bad. And the more we know what we’re missing, the more willing we are to let go.

Katya Brun. He is a student at the University of Utah. She is interested in medicine and the environment.

The Salt Lake Tribune is committed to creating a space where Utahns can share ideas, perspectives and solutions that move our state forward. We rely on your contributions to make this happen. Learn how to share your opinion over hereand email us. voices@sltrib.com.

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