Drought in the West: Utah population growth affects the drought | Opinion

Record low water levels are seen in the Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island on Friday, July 22, 2022. Utah’s growing population doesn’t help drought conditions.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Utah is known for its beautiful mountains, wildlife, national parks, state parks and much more. Lately, Utah’s persistent drought and the impacts it has had on the Great Salt Lake levels have dominated the headlines. Those of us who live in this beautiful state all benefit from the ecosystem services provided by our healthy forests and rangelands.

However, to continue to benefit from the ecosystem, Utahns need to start thinking holistically about the consequences the drought brings and that our actions perpetuate.

Utah’s water management is and needs to be more than just reducing the amount of water used for lawns — which is still very important and needs to be done. Well-managed forests reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and help boost forest ecosystem benefits, especially those related to water. Through active management of our watersheds, biological diversity is improved, wildlife populations thrive and entire ecosystems become more resilient.


How shared stewardship aims to save lives, forests and water in Utah

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor Map, in January 2021, 68.56% of Utah was in “Exceptional” drought, the worst category. As of July 2022, most of the state (83.03%) was in “Extreme” or “Exceptional” drought ­— the two worst categories. With hot weather in the forecast, conditions could worsen over the summer. With approximately 71% of the State of Utah consisting of public lands that provide food, water, energy, minerals and other essential resources, water quality and quantity are becoming increasingly important as the statewide population increases.

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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

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