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  • Great Salt LakeGreat Salt Lake Salt Lake City, Utah
    The Great Salt Lake sprawls out across miles of the northern region of Utah, as the biggest salt lake in the western hemisphere, the second biggest salt lake in the world, the fourth biggest terminal lake in the world and the 37th biggest lake on the earth. During an average year, the size spreads out to some 1700 square miles, but since it does fluctuate because of it shallowness, and the exterior elements, it has shrunk to 950 square miles at its lowest point in 1963, or to 3300 square miles as it did in 1987. It is the biggest remains of a prehistoric lake called Bonneville, which was a pluvial lake covering most of the state in those prehistoric days. It is an endorheic lake, which means the only way it gets smaller is by evaporation, as there aren't any outlets, and contains a high amount of salinity, much more so than salt water, and has three rivers feeding it some 1 million tons of minerals into the lake every year. Those rivers are the Jordan, Bear and Weber, with the balance of evaporated water being mineral free, but causes it to become more concentrated. Since it is highly salinated, it will float a human body without any assistance, but more so in the northern area of the lake which is saltier and called Gunnison Bay. It shallowness, causes the waters to be warmer than most lakes its size, which brings heavy lake-effect snows during the late fall, early winter and spring. It has been referred to as America's Dead Sea, but it does give a marvelous habitat form millions of waterfowl, shorebirds, brine shrimp and native birds that includes the biggest staging population of Wilson's phalarope in the universe.  The lake lent its name to the city that was originally called Great Salt Lake City by Brigham Young, president of the Mormon church, who brought a group of Mormon pioneers here in 1847. The city and suburbs are located southeast and east of the lake, between it and the Wasatch Mountains, while the land north and west is almost completely uninhabited. The famous Bonneville Salt Flats are to the west, with the Oquirrh and Stansbury Mountains high in the south. The three main tributaries feeding the huge lake come down from the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah, and a railroad line, the Lucin Cutoff goes across the lake, going across the southern end of the Promontory Peninsula. There are many landmasses in the lake, many called islands, but smaller ones, rocks and shoals can be submerged during times. Eight are named and visited by many people looking for the serenity and solitude that the islands offer. Water levels has been recorded since 1875, rising and falling depending on the rains that come slamming across the lake. In the 1980s, the record high levels of water cause a lot of damage to those property owners on the east side, and began to erode the base of Interstate 80. A huge project began to regulate the height of the water, and by the end of the first year had released a half billion feet of water. The pumps were shut down and have remained that way, although they are still usable in case of another high year that could lead to flooding or other problems.

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  • The Tracy AviaryTracy Aviary Salt Lake City, Utah
    Tracy Aviary is set on 8 acres of land in Liberty Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, started by local banker Russell Lord Tracy who donated his private bird collection to the city in 1938. They keep a collection of about 400 birds that represent 135 species, some rare or endangered. One such rare bird, was Pink Floyd, who escaped to the Great Salt Lake in 1987 and lived on the brine shrimp. He or she was often seen socializing with the gulls and swans, and interested enough residents to suggest that others of his kind should be brought to the salt lake to inhabit and entice other tourists to visit the lake. The area's wildlife biologists said that it would upset the balance of nature by bringing in a non-native bird, so that was the end of that. The last time Floyd was seen was in 2005 in Idaho, where he migrated, but hasn't been seen since and is believed to have died in the cold winter of 2005-2006.  Some of the beautiful birds living at the aviary are; American white pelican, scarlet ibis, Andean condor, king vulture, sand hill crane, black-crowned night heron, peacock, sun conure, Chilean flamingo, guira cuckoo and many other wild birds, like the eagle pictured to the right.

January 11, 2011