POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah lawmakers take tour of Great Salt Lake in Blackhawk helicopters

Feb 15, 2022, 7:18 PM

Three Blackhawk helicopters from the Utah Army National Guard carrying Utah lawmakers lift off from...

Three Blackhawk helicopters from the Utah Army National Guard carrying Utah lawmakers lift off from the south lawn of the Capitol in Salt Lake City for an aerial tour of the Great Salt Lake on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers got an up-close look at the dire situation at the Great Salt Lake on Tuesday. Members of the Utah National Guard took legislators on a tour of the Great Salt Lake aboard Blackhawk helicopters.

The Utah National Guard flew the lawmakers roughly 1,000 feet over the lake, so they could comprehend situation.

Rep. Doug Owens, who came up with the idea, says it was eye-opening experience for all involved.

A ride in Blackhawk helicopters

“It was universally,” he said to KSL NewsRadio. “A big wow factor for everybody. First of all, those machines are amazing. And I’m really grateful for our Utah Air Guard to use some of their training to take us out there.”

Rep. Owens says to see the low water levels up close is troubling.

“It’s quite shocking,” he said. “The marinas are dry. A lot of the lakebed is exposed, and problems are emerging. So, it’s an urgent situation, and we wanted everybody to see it firsthand.”

Reasons for concern

Rep. Owens told KSL NewsRadio there are a lot of reasons to be concerned about the low water levels. 

“Number one, human health,” he said. “If the lakebed gets exposed, it’s open to having dust blow into town and that’s got heavy metals in it.”

Rep. Owens also listed economic, tourism and wildlife reasons to be concerned about the low water levels.

He says there are currently some important bills on Capitol Hill that will help with the problem. Rep. Owens says the biggest bill is aimed at helping those residents in Davis and Weber counties to purchase secondary water meters for their sprinklers. Additionally, Rep. Owens says that if people know how much water they are using, they will reduce it.

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Utah lawmakers take tour of Great Salt Lake in Blackhawk helicopters