State of Utah Establishes Advisory Council for Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust

SALT LAKE CITY (January 31, 2023) – Today, the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust announced the membership of its new Trust Advisory Council. Establishing the council is an essential element in formalizing the Trust structure and advancing the Trust’s mission to bring more water flows to Great Salt Lake and its wetlands.

The Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Program was established by the Utah Legislature in 2022 to create a water trust for Great Salt Lake. The recently formed Trust is co-managed by the National Audubon Society (NAS) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and is one of Utah’s key strategies to prevent further drying of the lake. 

“Now that the Trust Advisory Council is in place and agreements have been finalized, we are ready to move forward with projects that benefit the lake,” Jamie Barnes, director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said. “We appreciate all the work that has taken place over the past several months to get the Trust up and running.”

The newly appointed Trust Advisory Council will provide guidance and leadership to help the Trust carry out its mission and objectives. The interest groups represented by the council are set out in legislation and include a range of stakeholders.    

By agreement with the state, NAS and TNC nominated up to three individuals for each category, and the final appointment decisions were made by the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands in consultation with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council. The Trust’s Advisory Council will consist of:


Spencer Gibbons, Chief Executive Officer, Utah Farm Bureau 

Private Landowner Adjacent to Great Salt Lake 

Jack Ray, Shareholder, Rudy Duck Club, South Shore of Great Salt Lake 

Conservation Organization Dedicated to the Preservation of Migratory Waterfowl 

Thomas Wright, Member, Ducks Unlimited 

Conservation Organization Dedicated to the Protection of Non-Game Avian Species 

Cooper Farr, Director of Conservation, Tracy Aviary 

Conservation Organization Working on Great Salt Lake Issues 

Jordan Nielson, Utah Water and Land Habitat Director, Trout Unlimited 


Tim Hawkes, Vice President and General Counsel, Great Salt Lake Artemia 

Mineral Extraction 

Joe Havasi, Vice President, Natural Resources, Compass Minerals 

Water Conservancy District 

Darren Hess, Assistant General Manager, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District 

Wastewater Treatment Facilities 

Jill Jones, General Manager, Central Davis Sewer District

“I can’t see a sustainable future for Great Salt Lake without a Trust dedicated to its water supply,” said Tim Hawkes, a newly appointed member of the Council. “I’m grateful for the Utah legislature, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and so many others who’ve worked hard to get the Trust up and running. I’m excited to serve on the Trust’s Advisory Board moving forward. Let’s get to work.”

Now that the Trust Advisory Council is in place, and agreements have been finalized between the state, NAS, TNC and the Community Foundation of Utah (the fiscal steward for the Trust), the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust is poised to engage in water transactions and projects to improve outcomes for Great Salt Lake. 

Initial Trust projects may include efforts to improve water quality and quantity for areas of Great Salt Lake and its wetlands, high-impact wetlands restoration projects and/or the purchase of voluntary water leases or water shares to direct water into key areas of the Lake.

Marcelle Shoop, Director of the Saline Lakes Program for National Audubon Society, will serve as Executive Director of the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust and will work closely with The Nature Conservancy in its management.

Preserving Great Salt Lake and its wetlands is imperative,” Shoop said. “It is a privilege to partner with experienced leaders as members of the new Trust Advisory Council who will help in our common effort and focus on advancing water priorities and habitat protections that will benefit the lake, wildlife, and communities.”

Interested parties can learn about or donate to the Trust through the new website:

To learn more about the lake’s management, visit the new website: GreatSaltLake.Utah.Gov.

 “We look forward to working with the Trust Advisory Council members in our efforts to improve conditions at Great Salt Lake,” says Elizabeth Kitchens, Acting Utah State Director for The Nature Conservancy, which co-manages the Trust. “The Trust represents an important step toward increased collaboration around the health of the Lake, and its success depends on engagement from the many interested parties who care about the Lake and the benefits it provides for nature and the people of Utah.”

The Community Foundation of Utah was chosen to serve as the fiscal steward for the trust, collect monetary donations and manage any endowments that could be established in the future.

”The Community Foundation of Utah is honored to serve as fiscal steward for the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust,” said Alex Eaton, Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to collaborating closely with our community partners to preserve and enhance the Great Salt Lake for generations to come.”



Joey Kahn, National Audubon Society

Communications Director, Water Conservation; 480.788.2416

Tracey Stone, The Nature Conservancy
Western Division Media Relations; 602.738.1586

Karl Hunt, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands

Public Information Officer; 385.249.6696

Kiki Potts, Community Foundation of Utah

Catalytic Investments Manager; 801.559.3005