Boats back in Great Salt Lake Marina thanks to rising water levels

Life is returning after a winter season with record-breaking amounts of snow.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Great Salt Lake State Park Marina on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

Ahoy! Sailboats are back in the Great Salt Lake marina in another sign that drought conditions are easing in the Beehive State

Less than a year ago, the Great Salt Lake Marina was a ghost town, but life is returning after a winter season of record-breaking snowfall.

On Monday, the Great Salt Lake State Park reported that the first two sailboats are back in the marina.

On August 3, 2022, FOX 13 News reported that the last of the boats had been pulled out of the marina after lake levels continued to drop during the hot summer months.

The lake bottomed in November 2022, marking a new historic low.

Photos show the bone-dry marina, which was completely barren last summer, with water levels a considerable distance away.

Compared to this year, photos show a great improvement in the water in the lake.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Great Salt Lake Marina near Saltair has been closed to all boats as the ongoing drought continued to lower lake levels on Tuesday, October 18, 2022.

In early April, officials reported that the lake was three feet higher compared to its November low.

As the spring runoff continues as Utah has even more rainfall in the forecast, it’s likely that water levels will continue to rise.

The news comes as Utah has seen major improvements in drought conditions overall, with most of northern Utah being completely removed from drought status last week.

Although the water is overall good news for the state, crews have been working diligently to prevent flood damage to neighborhoods and streets.

Community members have also joined efforts to prevent flooding by helping fill thousands of sandbags in northern Utah towns.

“We didn’t think we were going to put boats in the lake again this year,” said Dave Shearer, park manager at the Great Salt Lake Park Marina. “Maybe we can get another two or three feet up. We’ve already climbed over a meter. In a normal year, we rise two feet during spring runoff before sinking two feet through evaporation. I expect to get five to six feet tall overall this year and probably only drop one foot.”

Last June, for the first time in Sherer’s 25 years as park manager, all boats had to be withdrawn due to low water.

“These people want to get back in the water,” he said. “They want to enjoy the lake they love so we’ve started fixing and upgrading the docks and they’re starting to launch and they’re all excited.”

The boats are not pulled out of the lake so quickly; The DNR decided they would only welcome boats back if they knew they could stay through the summer.

“We didn’t want to let the boats in unless they could stay all year,” Shearer said.

Regular visitors like Apoua Satele can already feel the difference in the park now that the boats are back.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the boats and all the people out here because it’s been a while,” she said.

This article is published by the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that brings together news, education and media organizations to educate people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake — and what can be done to help make a difference before it’s too late. Read all of our stories below

Justin Scaccy

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