|Utah Lake, in Central Utah, is
the largest naturally occurring freshwater lake in the western United
States. Its wetlands have long been recognized locally and nationally
for their critical importance to fish and wildlife resources. The Utah
Lake wetland ecosystem is important as a breeding area and stopover for
many migratory birds in the Pacific Flyway. Approximately 226 species of
birds are known to use Utah Lake wetlands, as well as 49 mammalian
species, 16 species of amphibians and reptiles and 18 species of fish.
Utah Lake also provides feeding areas for birds nesting on the Great
The Utah Lake
Wetland Preserve, a network of wetland and interspersed upland
habitats near the southern end of Utah Lake, is being established to
partially mitigate for past and anticipated future impacts of Central Utah Project water
development. The Preserve will provide habitat for wetland- and
upland-dependent species and will ultimately be managed by the Utah
Division of Wildlife Resources.
The Commission entered into an agreement in 1996
with The Nature Conservancy, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S.
Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land
Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for acquisition and
management at the Utah Lake Wetland Preserve. The Preserve consists of
two units: Goshen Bay and Benjamin Slough.
The core of the Goshen
Bay unit has been the priority acquisition area. Core properties tie
into properties owned by other state and federal agencies that were
cooperators during development of the Utah Lake Wetland Preserve Plan.
The Preserve contains about 21,750 acres. About 14,195 acres are under management
of project cooperators (Mitigation Commission: 5,526 acres; Bureau of Land Management:
4,150 acres; State of Utah: 4,500 acres; and Utah County: 19 acres). The rest
is privately owned.
Development of a preserve management plan, which will assure
management in accordance with CUPCA and
substantive requirements of the National Wildlife Refuge
System Administration Act
of 1966, was initiated in 2002. The effort continued in 2004
and included opportunities for public involvement. Based
on the finalized plan, an operation and management agreement
among Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Commission
will be developed.
As part of President Obama’s plan to help stimulate the lagging economy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in February, 2009. Recovery Act funds provided to the Mitigation Commission accelerate the opportunity to construct a building for storage and maintenance and repair of supplies and equipment used at the Utah Lake Wetlands Preserve. The building will be located at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office complex in Springville, Utah.