PROMONTORY – By McKayla Shannon, Headliner Guest Columnist, January 18, 2023
I often get asked, “Do you like living in Promontory?” The answer isn’t as simple as most would expect.
Most days it’s peaceful and secluded. We are 40 miles from the nearest gas station and 20 miles from the nearest stop sign. I feel like I’m in my own little world, focusing on what needs to get done in the house and on the ranch. Other days, I feel like I have a target on my back for where I live and what I do.
We border three miles of The Great Salt Lake. I wake up every morning and look out my back window at the Bear River Bay and the Great Salt Lake. It is a beautiful view that comes with a lot of controversy.
The state of Utah has been talking about paying farmers and ranchers to not irrigate or buying water rights (which you would never get back because it is the government) from them to put the water into the Great Salt Lake. They want 600,000-acre feet of water to go back into the Great Salt Lake. The plan is to dam off the northwest arm of the lake to get 400,000-acre feet of water, asking farmers to not irrigate to get 100,000-acre feet of water, and the other 100,000-acre feet from the Weber Basin and Provo River.
According to Google, about 2.6 billion gallons, which is 7,979-acre feet, evaporates off the lake daily. Which is 2,912,335-acre feet a year of water that is being evaporated. So, 100,000-acre feet of water from farmers and ranchers would not make a difference for the lake, however this amount of water makes a huge difference to farming and ranching operations.
There are also discussions of how toxic the dry lakebed is. Some people call it toxins and some people call it nutrient dense. The drier it gets, the more dust gets kicked up by the wind. My husband and I have tried working with Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands on these issues, but to no avail. We submitted a proposal to the state (which they did not read) to have our cattle graze phragmites on the lake, a mile from our house, instead of using taxpayer money to spray it. We also asked that they work with Utah State to do research for planting a drought and salt tolerant grass on the lakebed to help with the dust. Instead, they want to put water back into the lake so it can evaporate before having an impact.
Farmland is disappearing left and right. When I drive into town to run my weekly errands, I seem to always spot a subdivision of new homes. I am curious to know where they are getting the water for all of them. It is disheartening to hear of the small-town government pushing for more development on farmland. Somehow cutting back on development is not a discussion within the legislature.
With the drought these last couple of years we never know what is around the corner. Hay, fuel and fertilizer prices have skyrocketed. Interest rates and inflation have made it almost impossible for any farmer or rancher to be able to expand or make improvements to the land and equipment they do have. Food prices in supermarkets have increased while the producers are making less because of the cost of inputs. Farmers and ranchers receive only eight cents of every dollar that is spent on food. We want the best quality meat and produce for you and your families to eat. We have your backs, and I am asking that the rest of the state have ours.
In 1935, there were nearly seven million farms in the United States. Now, 88 years later, there are only about two million. Only two million farms, each with different specialties, feed the entire country. I recently saw a post on Facebook saying if the United States had a nationwide disaster, there won’t be any other countries to come and save us. Where will you get your food if it is only grown and controlled by the government?
This is America. No one is coming to feed us.