Great Salt Lake Vigil at the Capitol 2024

When the life of someone you love is at stake you stay with them.

From January 16th- March 1st 2024 we are keeping vigil for Great Salt Lake on the grounds of the Utah State Capitol. Everyone is invited.

Sign up here!

Each morning at 8 am we Walk the Waves around the Utah State Capitol in silence; each evening at 5 pm we make some joyful noise as we Celebrate the Species with puppets built by many members of the lake-facing community. These twice daily demonstrations of love take place every Monday-Friday throughout the entire legislative session. 

We gather to honor a great intelligence deserving of legally defensible personal rights, to sing back to a ever-singing and sentient entity. Great Salt Lake is the vital and still-beating heart of life of this basin. The center, not a periphery. A creator, not a commodity. After two years of keeping winter vigil on the shore of Antelope Island, we’re flocking to the Capitol to celebrate all the lives she sustains— from brine flies to bison, from microbialites to twelve million birds! 

Design Your Own Vigil:

Come Celebrate the Species every evening for a week or Walk the Waves every Wednesday morning throughout the session. You are welcome for one day of the vigil or every day!  Design a vigil that works for you and let us know when you're coming.

Sign up here!

Your Group is Welcome!

Bring your book club, your family, your band! Do you practice something regularly with a group? Tai Chi? Knitting? Break-dancing? Samba? Saxaphone? Prayer? Running? Whatever it is, you can gather your people at the Capitol and offer it up to the lake! Your passion + your presence at the vigil = an irreplaceable offering of love for our beloved water body.

Drop Maggie a line to introduce your group and let us know when you are coming.

Four Agreements:

  1. Everyone is invited! The lake is calling us to transcend previous divides. No one will be excluded.
  2. Celebrate beyond-human species for their own sake. No signs are needed for this show of presence. The vigil is a demonstration of loving presence, not a protest.
  3. Silent walk with waves in the morning; celebratory walk with music and singing in the evening.
  4. Do no harm. We practice non-violence and kindness. We will respect the land we are on, each day leaving things better than before we came.

The life of Great Salt Lake is inseparable from our own.

We gather to bear witness to her beauty. We gather to grieve. We gather to create beacons of possibility. We gather to increase our tenderness towards brine shrimp, microbialites, and winged citizens of the air. We gather to carry each other through spells of despair. We gather to revere all that is vital and alive.

Even as the active collapse of our ecosystem challenges our notions of hope, we devote ourselves to a future shaped by human reverence, humility, and reciprocity. Everything we do matters. In the face of this crisis, who will we become?

Principles of the Vigil

  1. Non-violence: This is a peaceful uprising in action and word.
  2. Devotion: We turn our hearts and faces towards the lake.
  3. Presence: We offer the lake our calm, steady presence. We are here to witness water and to listen.
  4. Acknowledgement: We acknowledge Indigenous lands and support Indigenous leadership.
  5. Repair & Restoration: We seek to repair harms we have done and those done before us.
  6. Rights of Nature: We proclaim and uphold sovereign rights for Great Salt Lake and all water bodies.
  7. Beholding the Future: We dedicate our efforts to kin who are coming, human and beyond-human.
  8. Reverence: We cultivate a tender regard for all life forms: land forms, water bodies, elements, and species.

More Ways to Be Present with Great Salt Lake

  • Write with us! River Writing is a friendly, community-held writing practice. You don’t have to identify as a writer to participate. A great life is at stake and we stand together at a precipice. Your words matter. Details & registration.
  • Monday- Friday at 7am MST we host a 25 minute lake-facing meditation on zoom. Participate from wherever you are as we turn our hearts and faces to the lake in silence together. Register here
  • Write to Utah lawmakers and urge them to get water to the lake. Do not wait for legislative session. Write to them now to start a lake-facing conversation.
  • Follow the Vigil Keepers and Great Salt Lake celebrants with Nan on Instagram

Invitations for Utah Lawmakers

  • Get water to the lake this season.
  • Proclaim and uphold Great Salt Lake’s legal rights to live, flourish, and be restored. Acknowledge and protect personal rights for the lake that are at least on par with the personal rights of corporations.
  • Join us in the morning online for lake-centered meditation.
  • Proclaim and support a minimum lake level goal of at least 4200 feet above sea-level.
  • Permanently protect Bear River from any future development. Cease collecting sale tax for Bear River Development and other harmful water projects. Divert all existing funds to the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust.
  • Seek guidance from Indigenous leadership to repair our relationship with water.

Resources for Lake-facing People

Reading List

A Statement from Vigil Scientist-in Residence, Jaimi Butler:

“Great Salt Lake’s ecosystem is collapsing before our eyes. Increasing salt content and habitat loss in the main body of the lake are making it uninhabitable for the brine shrimp and flies that feed entire species of birds. The birds have no other place to move. We have no time left to prevent the dire ecosystem consequences wildlife and humans will experience over the coming years. It will take us decades of sustained effort to return enough water to the lake to restore habitat and rebalance salinity. Furthermore, we must commit to adaptive management in perpetuity. 

The amazing thing about our lake and its creatures is their resilience and flexibility within  a wide range of environmental conditions.  Brine shrimp release durable and long-lasting eggs, tiny living time capsules, which hatch when conditions are right. With optimal water conditions I don't think we could stop shrimp from repopulating the lake. Microorganisms become dormant when encased in salt and can re-animate when released. Even some bird populations have increased despite vastly increasing human populations. For me, the uncertainty lies in how the parts of the ecosystem will reassemble once we return water to the lake and if this new balance will support the vitality we have known in the past.  

Great Salt Lake remains full of possibilities. It is imperative for us to work together to get water to the lake for the wildlife and humans that live in this important ecosystem.”

Thank You! 

  • Wendy, Trish, and all the stewards of Antelope Island State Park. 
  • To the many members of the River Writing Community whose support and presence made both vigils possible and improbably joyful.
  • Therese Berry and Sarah May of Making Waves for Great Salt Lake for leading the community art builds!
  • Utah Humanities for your essential support.
  • John Meier and the filmmakers of PBS Utah for documenting this community offering to Great Salt Lake.
  • Rachel for loaning your camper in 2022 to give the vigil its first home, and Amanda and Pablo for offering yours to house the vigil in 2023