The Great Salt Lake: America's Legacy of Wetlands

Original Airdate: 
November 2001

It is one of the most mysterious bodies of water on the planet. Within the Great Salt Lake, only brine shrimp, bacteria and algae can survive the harsh, saline waters. Surrounding the shoreline, however, are some of the world's most pristine, ecologically diverse wetlands, which are home to millions of world class migratory birds.

Narrated by Academy-Award winning actress Joanne Woodward, The Great Salt Lake: America's Legacy of Wetlands tells one of the most important stories of the American West. It is a story about wildlife, biologists, ranchers, developers and environmentalists. Produced by KUED senior producer John Howe, this one-hour natural history portrait airs on KUED-7.

Presented in point-counterpoint format, The Great Salt Lake is structured in transitional segments that focus on ecology, industry, natural history and preservation. Each segment includes interviews with people who work, live and conduct research near the lake.

Utah's unique wetlands are threatened by urban sprawl: development, water source diversion, and the controversial Legacy Highway proposal. Across

America, similar habitats for endangered animals are disappearing at a rapid rate.

Visiting the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, the Layton-Kaysville Marsh, Stansbury Island, Gunnison Island, and the marshes of Great Salt Lake, Howe and his crew give viewers an intimate tour of the beauty and grandeur of a place that looks like a dead sea-yet is defined by life. From prehistoric Lake Bonneville to modern day farmers facing rising land values, The Great Salt Lake incorporates both economic and environmental concerns.

"The lake is a barometer of changes facing the American West and offers choices with few easy solutions," says John Howe, senior producer at KUED. "The Great Salt Lake: America's Legacy of Wetlands captures the unique intricacies of a land that challenges the eye to appreciate a different kind of beauty. This natural history portrait examines the conflict between wilderness protection and the needs of a growing population in an ecological perspective."

The Great Salt Lake: America's Legacy of Wetlands is made possible by the R. Harold Burton Foundation, the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, the Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation. The production crew includes John Howe, producer-writer-director; Jeff Elstad, associate producer; and William Montoya and Ed Anderson, audio design.

Program funded by
The R. Harold Burton Foundation
The S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation
The Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation
The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation
The Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation
and the Members of KUED.

1 hour