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The Once and Future Lake: Stories for Great Salt Lake


For 13,000 years, Great Salt Lake has been endorheic, existing with no outlet to an ocean. It is the dry remnant of a once massive inland sea or, as Gertrude Stein wrote in the 1930s, “the land salt lake land where there is no sea.” For many, it is not an easy place to love. Clouds of brine flies, pungent brine shrimp die-offs, the calcified bodies of birds scattered along its banks, and weather extremes all contribute to the misunderstanding of a remarkably complex keystone ecosystem. These misconceptions facilitated neglect and abuse of Great Salt Lake’s resources and systems for decades.

Longstanding fears of an ailing Great Salt Lake were quantified in early 2023 when an inter-agency report indicated that, without drastic changes to water usage along the Wasatch Front, Great Salt Lake would disappear within five years. Repercussions for life, human or otherwise, would be severe, including the disruption and devastation of migratory bird populations and toxic dust storms composed of pollutants in desiccated lake bed.

All the authors in this anthology call, or called, this part of the ancient sea bed home. Some are regular visitors to the lake and its environs, while others lived a short drive away yet never experienced Great Salt Lake’s waters, islands or refuges. Either way, Great Salt Lake’s influence on life is clear, inextricable from the area’s economy and weather as well its recreational, cultural, and spiritual histories. There is love here for all that is sublime and unsettling in Great Salt Lake’s expanses – its mirages and incomprehensible distances as well as the legion of life that betrays the seeming emptiness. There is also a longing for forgiveness for the long cycles of violence perpetrated against Great Salt Lake and those reliant upon her. In this collection, deep time collides with the immediacy of the present in a push to reimagine the lake, to shift our view as Terry Tempest Williams writes ‘from a body of wasted water to an ancient body of wisdom.’

February 2025 | Nonfiction | 9798890920096 | $23.95

Pink Salt Lake

MICHAEL MCLANE is the author of the chapbooks Fume and Trace Elements. He is a founding editor of the journal saltfront, the review editor for Sugar House Review and a poetry editor for Dark Mountain. His work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Western Humanities Review, Colorado Review, Laurel Review, Interim, Utah Historical Quarterly, and South Dakota Review. He currently lives in rural New Zealand and recently earned a PhD from Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters. 


Terry Tempest Williams | Brooke Williams |  Joel Long | Daniel Hernandez | Marissa Beckstrom | Natalie Young | Rob Carney | Lisa Bickmore | Hikmet Loe | Scout Invie | Paisley Rekdal | Jared Farmer | Scott Morris | Danielle Dubrasky | Katharine Coles | Sarah Fox | Star Coulbrooke | Andy Hoffmann | Charles Waugh | Scott Abbott | Karin Anderson | Claire Wahmanholm | Justin Evans | Adam Davis | Nicole Walker | Brooke Larsen/ Darren Perry | Ayja Bounous | Willy Palomo | Teri Harman | Dayna Kidd Patterson | Katherine Indermaur | Eli McCann | Kylan Rice | Lindsey Webb | Alyssa Quinn | Sylvia Torti | Nan Seymour | Sarah May | Rachel White

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