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Great Salt Lake Nature Center

History

History of the Robert N. Hasenyager Great Salt Lake Nature Center

THE GREAT SALT LAKE is one of Utah's most significant and underappreciated resources. Encompassing approximately 1,500 square miles, this vast remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville is known the world over for its heavy salt content, stunning sunsets and beautiful mountain vistas. Beyond the scenery and the occasional float in the lake, however, few Utahns understand the unique contribution the lake's ecosystem makes to quality of life along the heavily populated Wasatch Front.

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Pelicans at Farmington Bay

Recognizing that educating Utah's citizens and its visitors about the ecological value and diversity of the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem is vital to sustaining this unique and important resource, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) began thinking about developing an education program at the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area (WMA) around 1991. Other planning efforts during the late 1990s, like the Northern Utah Wetlands Education Plan developed at Utah State University, suggested that the Farmington Bay WMA was an ideal site to develop such a program.

In 2001, a diverse group representing educators, wildlife and environmental organizations, universities and county governments developed an interpretive master plan for Farmington Bay WMA. This plan identified the need for an environmental education program and construction of associated support facilities.

In 2003, a mobile learning center was constructed at the Farmington Bay WMA in partnership with the Davis County school district, UDWR and a cadre of other private and public organizations including the Utah Wildlife in Need Foundation (UWIN) (formerly the Great Salt Lake Interpretive Trust). The learning center was designed by students from Viewmont High School and built by construction trade students from Bountiful and Viewmont High Schools.

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The Nature Center at Farmington Bay

In 2007, the mobile learning center was relocated to a wetland area adjacent to the Farmington Bay WMA. At this new location, the nature center is better able to fulfill its true education potential. The trailers are surrounded by a wrap-around deck where visitors can overlook the wetlands and spot a variety of bird species.

The Energy Solutions Environmental Foundation presented the Utah Wildlife in Need Foundation with a check for $150,000 for the relocation of the nature center to its new, permanent site at 1700 W. Glovers Lane in Farmington.

A roadway, parking area and additional restrooms were also constructed around the classrooms to provide better amenities for visitors. The estimated cost of relocation was around $250,000. The center opened at its new location on September 8, 2007.

The next phase of the relocation involved constructing a web of nature trails that run through the 300 acres of varied wetland habitats that surround the nature center buildings. The trails were created to give people access to the GSL Nature Center area while, at the same time, preventing visitors from damaging habitat and disturbing nesting sites. Construction of the first trail began in the summer of 2008 with an award from the American Birding Association. The main 1.3-mile nature trail that was completed in 2010 and is wheelchair-accessible, consists of gravel paths, boardwalks over ponds and two wildlife viewing blinds. The trail also offers interpretive signage and benches for resting.

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Hours of operation

Usual hours run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. We're closed Sundays and holidays.