Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Keith Christensen


Keith Christensen


Karin Kettenring


Barty Warren-Kretzschmar


Every year, the Great Salt Lake (GSL) and its associated wetlands provide critical habitat for over 250 migratory bird species from both the Pacific and Central Flyways. The GSL borders the Wasatch Front, which is the fastest growing and most populous region in Utah. To support the ever-increasing working population, the government of Utah aspires to increase the robust economic growth of the region through economic incentives and development of infrastructure. As this area continues to develop, greater pressure will be placed on the surrounding natural resources, including the GSL, its wetlands, and the open space and agricultural land that act as buffers from the urbanizing Wasatch Front. The primary objective of this research was to identify and assess possible conflicts between current migratory bird habitat and three proposed future development projects around Farmington Bay of the GSL.

To identify and assess potential conflicts, I first created habitat maps for three migratory bird guilds that use the Farmington Bay area by combining five individual species’ habitat distributions within each guild. Then, I collected and prepared spatial data for three proposed development projects that are likely to develop by the year 2040. Next, I overlaid the development projects onto each guild’s and species’ habitat map to first identify conflict areas and then assess the spatial impacts to habitat for each species and guild. Finally, I made recommendations for future development that promote the conservation of migratory bird habitat within the study area.

Overall, I found that all three of the proposed development projects produce substantial amounts of conflict with the current migratory bird habitat in the region. Based on these findings, I recommend three development initiatives. First, promote ‘centered growth’ and higher-density housing to reduce the sprawl of single-family residential neighborhoods. Second, retain and protect open space and agricultural lands as buffers around Farmington Bay to reduce habitat fragmentation and urban encroachment. Third, reconsider the construction of a new four-lane highway along the eastern edge of Farmington Bay. If these recommendations are implemented, the region’s migratory bird habitat will have greater protection from economic expansion and urban development.


See Keith Christensen of the LAEP Dept. for copies of my spatial data.

There is also an executive report available at: