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Great Salt Lake Shorelands Now Has "A Tour Guide In Your Pocket"

Judy Fahys
The Greenlease family explores the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. The Nature Conservancy has created a new guided tour for the cellphone.

There’s always a lot going on at the wetland fringe of the Great Salt Lake, where as many as 6 million migratory birds hang out for at least part of the year.

“It is one of the few places on earth,” says a guided tour for the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, “that can meet the food and shelter needs of millions of birds traveling along the eastern spur of the pacific flyway.”

That’s just a little of the crowdsourced lore included in the new shorelands preserve audio tour, created by The Nature Conservancy and available for smartphones.

Andrea Nelson, the Nature Conservancy’s community outreach manager in Utah, says it’s like having a personal guide in your pocket.

“You can go as fast or as slow as you want as you walk along the boardwalk,” she says. “You can listen to the stories. There’s lots of information. There’s lots of background.”

Nelson helped develop the free audio guide, which can be downloaded on an app called “Travel Storys.” Using it for the entire loop takes an hour or so. And each session is GPS activated.

“It’s all free,” says Nelson. “It’s very family-friendly. It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours exploring and learning a little bit more about these fascinating and unique wetlands of the Great Salt Lake.”

Marina Greenlease and her husband visit the preserve for peace and sunshine. They’ve brought their three-year-old daughter for her first visit, and they see the audio tour as a welcome addition.

“You point it out: ‘Hey, look at this. Look at that’,” she says. “I think it’s cool.”

The drive to the preserve from Salt Lake City is about half an hour.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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