BYU professor files countersuit against Utah Lake developer
Feb 1, 2022, 3:20 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — The legal battle over a proposed development in Utah Lake is heating up after the Brigham Young University professor who is being sued for defamation by the project’s developers filed a countersuit.
The attorney for plant and wildlife sciences Professor Ben Abbott says Lake Restoration Solutions is trying to use the courts to silence people who are critical of the plans to dredge the lake and make man-made islands.
“If we are to preserve the public’s right, and the public’s courage to speak out on public issues, we cannot let LRS weaponize the judicial system to silence or even discourage critics,” said attorney Whit Krogue.
Lake Restoration Solutions claims that Abbot made demonstrably false statements to sway public opinion against the development.
Abbot is filing the countersuit under Utah’s anti-SLAPP laws and says the man-made island would be bad for the ecosystem. Anti-SLAPP laws are designed to prevent the use of courts or lawsuits to intimidate people from using their First Amendment rights.
“I have done my best throughout this process to represent what they have. I’ve also asked to speak with them directly and with other city leaders.
The Lake Restoration Solutions idea for Utah Lake
Utah Lake is a shallow lake, its maximum depth is 14 feet. Potentially dangerous algal blooms regularly occur. The Deseret News reports that these two factors are among the drivers behind The Utah Lake Restoration Project
The idea is to remove sediment, make the surface area smaller, restore native vegetation and habitat, and build three islands in the lake — one for recreation, wildlife, and development.
Simone Seikaly contributing to this report.