The Great Salt Lake: An ecosystem services perspective.
MULL, J.F.* 1, J.HATCH 1 and A.LINDAHL 2
Weber State University, Ogden, UT 84408 USA. 1
Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322 USA. 2
The waters of northern Utah's Great Salt Lake and its adjacent wetlands represent a clearly delineated ecosystem that produces a range of ecosystem goods and services to the burgeoning population of the Wasatch Front. Thus, it is a model system for educating the public and policy makers about the value of preserving ecosystem structure and function. We estimate the value of selected services provided by the lake using information from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the Utah Department of Natural Resources and published estimates of services furnished by other aquatic systems. Extractive mineral industries and the brine shrimp fishery on the lake have an annual value exceeding $100 million. Though less appreciated and more difficult to quantify, a variety of other, largely non-extractive services are supplied by the lake ecosystem. For example, replacement of the lake's flood control and waste decomposition services would cost $150 million, in addition to annual operating costs of $4 million for these replacement facilities. By moderating temperature and adding lake effect precipitation along the Wasatch Front, the Great Salt Lake benefits the ski industry, agriculture and municipal water supplies. The annual value of these weather-dependent commodities exceeds $400 million. The lake ecosystem also furnishes increasingly popular recreational activities such as boating, hiking, wildlife viewing and hunting that contribute at least $5 million annually to the local economy. We conclude by considering the impact of current land management practices and proposed development projects on the quality and quantity of the goods and services that this ecosystem provides.
This abstract is being presented at: 10:30 AM in session:
Poster Session #9: Fish, Lakes, Streams and Wetlands.