More than two years ago, UtahLake.gov published its first story: So long, carp! Here’s how Utah Lake could have clear water by 2017. To date, it remains our most popular story.
Last month, interest spiked again after state officials released the above undated photo of Ventura Marsh, Iowa. It purportedly shows a startling contrast of what the lake looks like before carp removal and after.
Local media, including NBC affiliate KSL, Fox affiliate KSTU, and The Daily Herald covered the news. Viewers and readers reacted in a variety of ways.
Some still question the use of public funds to clean up the lake. “The carp reproduce and move to areas as fast as (fisherman) are catching them,” said one commenter. “They are wasting our money.”
Others question the end game. “I would guess it isn’t economically possible to remove all carp from Utah Lake, so does that mean the removal never ends?”
But many, if not the slight majority, seem to favor the efforts. “I’m glad they are doing this,” said another man. “It’s really a great program that will benefit us all. Who can complain about having a cleaner Lake?” And another: “I’m a conservative Republican in favor of limited government but even I see this as a good public investment. More than happy to chip in as a Utah tax payer if it allows for a cleaner lake.”
Of course, there also appears to be continued misinformation surrounding what the carp removal hopes to achieve. One gentleman defended the carp, suggesting that the mud the carp root up eventually settles, hence carp removal isn’t a permanent solution. The problem with that thinking is the carp do more than just muck up silt, they kill vegetation, which are vital for shallow lakes like Utah Lake in securing silt and keeping the water clear.
Still, there’s no guarantee Utah Lake will look like Ventura Marsh, Iowa, something officials are willing to admit. “One cannot be certain how an ecosystem will respond to managed activities,” one state official told me after carp removal was well under way. “Without taking action, however, Utah Lake will continue to be the way that it is now, or get worse,” he added, pointing to scientific research and previous carp removal programs such as at Ventura Marsh that have worked.
Either way, one thing’s for sure: Clean water is a big deal. Here’s hoping Utah Lake can get closer to how it was described in the 1800s, as a clear, blue lake in which you could see trout swimming from the surface.
Photo credit: Utah Dept. of Natural Resources