Utah is a great state if you want something done well and done fast—especially if there's money involved. Remember how fast we got I-15 redone and the lightrail installed in time for the 2002 Olympics? Or how long it took to demolish ol' Crossroads Plaza Mall and build City Creek?
To me, it seems that it's only been a year or two since our former mayor announced we'd be getting a full-size Broadway-style theater at 131 S. Main. And what do you know? The new Eccles venue just had its "soft opening" for members earlier this month. A little more than 100 years ago, thousands of people here worked for two years, seven days a week, to build a road—a bridge of sorts—across the Great Salt Lake so that the railroad could save 44 miles of travel by adding 102 miles of track above the salty waters. What was named the Lucin Cutoff was built on mud and clay out of rocks and wooden bridges or trestles. It was replaced in the 1950s and became known as "the causeway."
Still used today by Union Pacific Railroad for 15-plus trains daily, the causeway has sadly created an environmental nightmare that you can clearly see from the sky. One side of lake is blue-green water while the other looks like an other-worldly pink-red soup, which means that water and salt levels are much different on each side. Sure, there are culverts that supposedly flow the water back and forth from fresh sources of the Bear, Weber and Provo rivers, but with lake's levels low, the H2O don't flow! The pink-red side is so sick that birds and brine shrimp are in trouble.
The railroad is supposed to breach the line anytime now to allow for better flow, but state officials are worried that salt levels will change so drastically that the brine shrimp might not be able to reach adult stage before the coming winter. We're on one of the five major flyways for migratory birds, and many of them eat those shrimp.
For you Utah newbies, the bigger worry is that if lake levels are rising at the wrong time of the year, we won't get any of these sea monkeys. Yes, we produce sea monkeys, as well as 35 percent of the world's supply of harvested brine shrimp eggs used as food for tropical fish and other sea critters. Next time you fly, look down—you'll see the lake during liftoff. Then you can explain to the person next to you why our lake is two distinctive colors, and why we must save our sea monkeys.