Bill designating brine shrimp as Utah’s crustacean passes first test

Feb 16, 2023, 7:54 AM | Updated: Feb 17, 2023, 5:42 am

Students from Emerson Elementary in Salt Lake City created a petition to name the brine shrimp the ...

Students from Emerson Elementary in Salt Lake City created a petition to name the brine shrimp the state crustacean. (Change.org)


This article is published through The Great Salt Lake Collaborative: A Solutions Journalism Initiative, a partnership of news, education and media organizations that aims to inform readers about the Great Salt Lake.

SALT LAKE CITY — Spurred on by students from Emerson Elementary in Salt Lake City, a House committee passed a bill to honor brine shrimp.

HB137, sponsored by Rep. Rosemary Lesser (D-Ogden), designates the brine shrimp as Utah’s crustacean. If approved by the Utah Legislature, the creature would join the cherry, Allosaurus, coal and square dancing, among others, as a state symbol.

The bill originated as a petition from a 6th-grade class at Emerson Elementary, where students learned how important brine shrimp are to the ecosystem and decided to take action.

“If we don’t do something, all the birds that eat the brine shrimp will lose their food source and their home,” said student Jamison Hunt in support of the bill.

Lesser said the law would help raise awareness of the ecological collapse facing the Great Salt Lake. As the lake shrinks and becomes more salty, biologists say the lake’s food chain, including brine shrimp and brine flies, is collapsing.

“By voting for the state crustacean you are committing to the ecology that is so important to maintain for this great saline lake for which our state is known,” Lesser told the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee.

She offered the majority of her presentation time to the elementary students, who spouted facts about the brine shrimp and how the extinction of these “little Syd the Sloth-eyed creatures” would affect Utah’s ecosystem.

“These little Olympic swimmers glide through the water like birds soaring through the sky. Watching these majestic creatures swim is mesmerizing. They are so little yet so important to our lives and economy,” states the petition.

The bill passed 10-2 vote, with Rep. Rex Shipp (R-Cedar City) and Rep. Casey Snider (R- Paradise) voting against.

Snider said the bill “doesn’t do what we need at this time,” because it doesn’t create policy to save the Great Salt Lake.

“I’m going to be the designated curmudgeon,” Snider said. While he praised the students for getting involved, he said the bill takes up time that is needed to pass policy that would protect the lake. “We’ve got a system that may collapse if we don’t get more water. I don’t think this does, policywise, what we need at this time.”

The bill was not passed in time last year, so this marks the second year for this bill. 


We want to hear from you.

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

Politics + Government

Former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to court for his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal ...

Simone Seikaly

LISTEN: Closing arguments begin in Trump hush money trial

Former President Donald Trump faces felony charges related to a hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress, in 2016. 

6 hours ago

gov cox speaks during memorial day event...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

‘I love my country’: Veterans, Gov. Cox focus on service, honoring military on Memorial Day

Gov. Spencer Cox at a Memorial Day service in Salt Lake stressed the importance of service and honoring veterans who have died while serving.

1 day ago

mitt romney at johns hopkins commencement ceremony...

Sam Herrera

Mitt Romney’s commencement speech at Johns Hopkins University interrupted by protesters

Sen. Mitt Romney was briefly interrupted by protestors as he spoke at Johns Hopkins University's commencement ceremony on Thursday,

5 days ago

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks at the City-County Building in Salt Lake City, May 5, 2...

Aimee Cobabe

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is asking for a pay raise

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is looking to increase her pay for up to 26% which will make an additional $44,000 a year. She is also proposing a 5% pay increase for all city employees for this year.

6 days ago

Senator Mitt Romney addresses ongoing drought conditions in Utah during a Budget Committee hearing ...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Senator Mitt Romney says we should be doing more to combat drought

Senator Mitt Romney is taking a look at how money is being spent on drought-related issues and pushing for more collaboration on the subject.

6 days ago

nikki haley shown, she endorsed trump...

Sam Herrera

Nikki Haley endorses Trump for president

The endorsement comes months after Haley ended her own presidential bid in March.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Bill designating brine shrimp as Utah’s crustacean passes first test