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Thank you to everyone who attended the 11th Annual Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium! This free two-day conference encourages a comprehensive review of the current state of our watershed while creating learning opportunities for a diverse array of stakeholders. Sessions covered a broad range of topics on water quality and watershed issues with local, regional, and national relevance. Hosted by Salt Lake County Watershed Planning & Restoration.

Powerpoints and audio recordings are available.  Click on a session and scroll down to the attached files.
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Thursday, November 16 • 1:50pm - 2:20pm
Unique Bird Habitat on a Prehistoric Jordan River Delta as it Enters Great Salt Lake—National Audubon Society’s Gillmor Sanctuary

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Unique Bird Habitat on a Prehistoric Jordan River Delta as it Enters Great Salt Lake—National Audubon Society’s Gillmor Sanctuary

Audubon manages a bird preserve on the Jordan River for saline mudflats and ephemeral wetlands for many of the millions of birds that depend on a diverse wetland complex. Issues and threats such as climate change, water quantity, quality and timing make preserving this unique habitat increasingly important for sustaining the biodiversity of GSL.

Full Abstract:
Since 1992, National Audubon Society (Audubon) has been actively working with the Utah Mitigation Commission to create a bird sanctuary on the shoreline of Great Salt Lake in extreme northwestern Salt Lake County. Today the South Shore Preserve (Audubon Gillmor Sanctuary and Mitigation Commission Properties) consists of about 3000 acres of land and 3000 acre feet of water. The Preserve is an end-user of Jordan River Basin water before it enters directly into the adjacent Gilbert Bay on Great Salt Lake. Annually, Great Salt Lake hosts millions of birds that nest or migrate through the large complex of diverse wetlands. It is one of the largest concentrations of birds on the planet. National Audubon Society’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. Management of the wetlands adjacent to Great Salt Lake has historically focused primarily on waterfowl in permanent fresh water impoundments. Existing literature on managing wetlands for shorebirds clearly illustrates a deficit of knowledge with most articles stressing the need for a careful experimental approach. Added to the complexity for managing the shallowly flooded saline wetlands of the Preserve is the lack of knowledge of the critical role that salt plays in development of these diverse wetlands. The focus of the Preserve habitat enhancement is on these shallow ephemeral saline mudflats and the shorebirds that use them. To create this shorebird habitat, fresh water from the Jordan River is introduced into a series of ten water management units ranging from 14-330 acres of salt mudflats situated in a large, dry, intact, relict delta created by the prehistoric Jordan River. The Preserve is being managed through a science-based approach that is adaptive and cutting edge, promoting through field experimentation, an understanding of creating and maintaining a healthy and diverse mosaic of habitats that are consistent with the dynamic and changing nature of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Located in the narrow strip of land along the western flank of the Wasatch Mountains, the most populous area in Utah, many wetlands have been and continue to be lost and affected by an exploding human population growth and the resulting development. Audubon is concerned about issues and threats to the health of the wetlands such as climate change, water quantity, quality and timing.


Heidi Hoven

Assistant Gillmor Sanctuary Manager, National Audubon Society
Heidi Hoven is a wetland ecologist and plant scientist who has conducted research and monitoring programs in wetlands of Great Salt Lake for the last 18 years. She consulted for large wetland restoration planning and monitoring projects with KUCC/Rio Tinto, UDOT, DWQ and Salt Lake... Read More →

Ella Sorensen

Manager NAS Gillmor Sanctuary, National Audubon Society
Ella Sorensen has worked for decades for National Audubon Society to piece together land and water to create the South Shore Preserve a bird sanctuary located on the shoreline of Great Salt Lake. She and Heidi Hoven PhD, currently manage the area with a focus on research for shorebirds... Read More →

Attendees (21)