Study aims to balance growth, preservation around Bear Lake

Jul 1, 2022, 8:29 PM | Updated: 8:43 pm

BEAR LAKE, Utah — Bear Lake brings nearly $50 million into the Northern Utah economy each year, all while it continues to serve as a major water source.

A new study is taking a close look at those impacts on Rich County.

During a holiday weekend, you’ll typically see around 40,000 visitors to the Bear Lake area which has a permanent population of about 1,000.

Area leaders are looking for ways to accommodate those growing crowds while preserving the lake as a resource.

Everyone has their reasons for visiting the northern Utah recreation area.

“It took just one trip with friends five years ago for me to make it a tradition,” said Rebecca Lambert.

She and her group of friends returned this year with some friends.

Clark Defranco is one of those friends.

“My first time to Bear Lake and I love it,” Defranco said.

They’re not alone. The crowds seem to keep getting bigger.

“We’ve experienced over 30% year-on-year growth of room rents up here,” said Mark Smoot, who owns Sunrise Resort.

Mark Smoot

About 80% of the housing around Bear Lake is seasonal.

Smoot said, “Taking care of that explosion of visitors has been a challenge, you know. We’ve had new business that have come to town to try and meet that need.”

That’s one reason the Conservation Economics Institute started an in-depth study designed to find better ways to support the crowds and the lake.

“We need to make sure that we are looking at it holistically as a region,” explained Brian Carver, who supervises community and economic development at the Bear River Association of Governments, or BRAG.

Brian Carver

Tourism accounts for some 450 full and part-time jobs. These are big economic impacts but there are also environmental concerns.

“I think it really highlights the need to treat the Bear Lake and the valley as an asset, you know, that needs to be managed,” Carver said.

BRAG asked for the study as a way to better consider the lake both as a watershed and major tourist attraction so that even more people can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

“It’s gorgeous. It’s super nice and blue,” Defranco said.

In the near future, BRAG would like to have a study done on the whole Bear River area down to the Great Salt Lake to find out how growing populations are impacting the river and surrounding communities.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Lauren Steinbrecher

Utah family takes in Ukrainian family fleeing war after meeting on social media

A family from southcentral Ukraine is now calling Utah their home after meeting a Utah couple online who were total strangers.
1 day ago
Carole Mikita

Thousands of Virginia Latter-day Saints celebrate the rededicated Washington D.C. Temple

On Sunday morning, thousands of Latter-day Saints filled the D.C temple grounds to be part of the rededication with President Russell M. Nelson.
1 day ago
Debbie Worthen

New KSL Podcast: Celebrating the Spectrum with Debbie Worthen

The KSL podcast lineup is getting a new show. "Celebrating the Spectrum" is a KSL original podcast that will drop weekly episodes every Monday morning featuring KSL TV's Debbie Worthen.
1 day ago
Michael Houck

Three men facing disorderly conduct charges after staging a kidnapping for a YouTube video

Three men were charged with disorderly conduct after staging a kidnapping for their YouTube channel Saturday afternoon. 
1 day ago
Michael Houck

WVC Police search for drive-by shooting suspect, one victim in hospital

Police are searching for a shooting suspect after hospitalizing a man Sunday afternoon.
1 day ago
Michael Houck

Police investigate why man died after he was in police custody

Salt Lake City police are investigating the death of a robbery suspect after being placed in custody and sent to the hospital on Sunday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Study aims to balance growth, preservation around Bear Lake