Lake Restoration Solutions in legal battle over Utah Lake

Dec 7, 2022, 1:23 PM | Updated: 2:23 pm
lake restoration...
The Great Salt Lake has issues with algal bloom and depleting habitats and water. A study co-authored by a BYU professor says the Great Salt Lake could be gone in five years if changes aren't made. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The restoration company that wants to dredge and build islands in Utah Lake has filed an appeal after its request was shut down in October. Lake Restoration Solutions said it is fighting for another chance to build in Utah Lake. 

The company submitted a proposal to Utah officials in 2017. LRS asked the state to give it land within the lake in exchange for restoration efforts to fight algal bloom and loss of habitat. 

Part of the company’s restoration plan included building islands out of the lake bed, which is why the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands canceled LRS’s application in October.

In its decision, the DFFS said private islands would get in the way of the public having full access to the lake.

Restoration cancelation aftermath

BYU Aquatic Ecology Professor Ben Abbott, an opponent to the proposal and who is being sued by LRS, said that with its appeal, he believes the company is putting itself in a position to sue the state.

In 2018 new legislation allowed sovereign land to be given to companies for restoration.  In this instance, ‘sovereign lands’ refers to land that, as required by the Utah Constitution, must remain in use by the public.

According to Abbot, any progress on LRS’s project after the new law in 2018 was minimal. 

It wasn’t until the summer of 2021, Abbot explained, that the project actually began moving forward. But Abbot alleged that it was being done behind “closed doors.”

Abbot claimed that LRS used a large number of state resources including a $10 million loan guarantee from state officials for fundraising, despite its alleged promise to not use public money for the project. 

“[LRS] is claiming that because the state determined that their proposal was unconditional, it has caused them to lose investors and caused the Army Corp [of Engineers] to reject their proposal,” said Abbot.

“[LRS is] accusing the state of impropriety and being capricious and completely inappropriate despite the fact that the state bent over backwards to accommodate their projects.” 

Although Lake Restoration Solutions’ Jon Benson declined an interview, the company sent a statement to KSL NewsRadio indicating it is appealing because there are still massive problems at the lake that need to be addressed.

… Lake Restoration Solutions is committed to its mission of helping to restore and rejuvenate a struggling Utah Lake to once again be a gem for all Utahns to enjoy. We are continuing our collaboration with the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands to find the optimal solutions for Utah Lake that maximize the public benefits while still using private funding solutions to ensure there is not a tax increase for the restoration efforts. With the right restoration and enhancement efforts, Utah Lake would become an incredible recreation destination. Most important, enhancing Utah Lake could save billions of gallons of water annually to help ensure a future clean water supply.

Related reading: Utah Lake restoration called “unconstitutional” by state agency

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Havasu Falls spills into the water pools below in Supai, Arizona, in October of 2016. Photo credit:...
Forrest Brown, CNN

Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls to reopen to visitors after 3-year closure

 (CNN) — Havasu Falls, one of the most intriguing features of the Grand Canyon system, will be reopening to visitors after a three-year closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s with a catch. The reopening is scheduled for February 1; however, access will be limited initially to a certain, small group. People whose previous […]
8 hours ago
A herd of elk was crossing lanes of westbound I-80 in Salt Lake City on Thursday....
Elizabeth Weiler

Wildlife officials, troopers, maneuver large herd of elk away from I-80

The animals had moved down the mountain looking for food according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
1 day ago
A new service called Cottonwood Connect could address parking problems at the ski resorts in Big an...
Kate Davis and Simone Seikaly

Cottonwood Connect offers a new way to get up Cottonwood Canyons

The goal is to fill gaps left when UTA limited ski bus service. The shuttle will run Thursday through Sunday through mid-April.
1 day ago
Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, speaks at a press conference about the Great Salt Lake at the ...
Carter Williams. KSL.com

Utah, Salt Lake leaders unveil new plans to improve the struggling Great Salt Lake

State and local leaders are prposing two pieces of legislation to help save the Great Salt Lake amid dropping water level.
1 day ago
BYU study finds we need to stop watering as much as we are....
Mark Jones

Speaker Wilson says Utah legislature is working hard on water issue

SALT LAKE CITY — Prior to the start of the 2023 Utah Legislative Session, it seemed like water would be a popular topic throughout the 45-day session. And a week into the session, that appears to be the case.  House speaker Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) joined Inside Sources hosted by Maura Carabello and Taylor Morgan to […]
2 days ago
lake restoration...
Mark Jones

BYU study: Great Salt Lake could dry up in 5 years if changes aren’t made

A study co-authored by a BYU professor says the Great Salt Lake could be gone in five years unless changes are made.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Lake Restoration Solutions in legal battle over Utah Lake