Rep. Moore’s Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act passes House of Representatives

Congressman Blake Moore’s Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act passed the House of Representatives. Introduced with Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA), this legislation would establish a scientific monitoring and assessment program to help save the Great Salt Lake and other saline lakes in the West.

“Utah’s Great Salt Lake and its neighboring saline lakes are invaluable to our health, environment, habitats, and our ski, recreation, brine shrimp, and extraction industries,” said Congressman Blake Moore. “I am thrilled this bill moved through the House Natural Resources Committee with unanimous support and passed the House as a testament to our commitment to preserve our saline lake ecosystems so our water users, habitats, industries, and animals can thrive for years to come. I thank my colleagues for their support of this bill, and I look forward to its progress through the legislative process.”

“We appreciate the great work of Representative Moore and Senator Romney to advance this important legislation on saline ecosystems,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “It perfectly complements our work with the Utah legislature to make historic changes to state water law and dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to save the Great Salt Lake and improve water conservation throughout Utah.”

“I want to commend Representative Moore for his work on passing the Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act,” said Joel Ferry, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. “This legislation is an important step forward in understanding and protecting Great Salt Lake. We are experiencing the worst drought in the West in generations and Great Salt Lake has hit historic low levels. We need to take action to protect and mitigate these impacts.  The assessment and monitoring effort envisioned by this legislation will help inform Utah and neighboring states about what is happening at these Western saline lakes and what actions could help conserve them for generations to come. Finding solutions to the water challenges facing Great Salt Lake and the West cannot be a zero sum game—we are all in this together.”

Saline lakes within the Great Basin—which includes areas of Utah, California, Nevada, and Oregon—provide a critical network of habitats for millions of migrating shorebirds, waterbirds, and waterfowl. Saline lakes generally have higher levels of salts and dissolved minerals than freshwater lakes, allowing them to provide essential habitats, create and drive recreational opportunities, provide public health benefits, and more. However, declining water levels due to demand, drought, and environmental changes have dried out these important lakes within the Great Basin, threatening economies, habitats, public health, and recreation. 

The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act would provide the U.S. Geological Survey—in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and tribal, state, academic, and nonprofit organizations—resources to conduct scientific monitoring and assessments to establish effective management and conservation efforts to preserve essential Saline Lake habitats within the Great Basin network. 

The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act builds on the important, broadly supported work being done in the Utah State Legislature to address this issue.  In addition, the bill has received support from Governor Cox and several organizations, including: the National Audubon Society, Compass Minerals, Trout Unlimited, Rio Tinto Kennecott, the Utah Waterfowl Association, the Utah Airboat Association, the Utah Wetlands Foundation, the Nature Conservancy in Utah, Friends of Great Salt Lake, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, the Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, the Utah Audubon Council, and the National Wildlife Federation. The bill supports the work authorized under the Concurrent Resolution to Address Declining Water Levels of the Great Salt Lake, which passed the Utah State Legislature unanimously in 2019.  

In addition, the bill is also cosponsored by Representatives Susie Lee (D-NV), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Burgess Owens (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Mark Amodei (R-NV). 

The bill text can be found here. The coalition support letter can be found here and Governor Cox’s support letter can be found here.