Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve: 20 years as a bird haven

We created the Kennecott Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve (ISSR) 20 years ago under a mitigation plan developed in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to offset the loss of 1,000 acres impacted when the company expanded its tailings impoundment in 1996. We met mitigation requirements within eight years, and continue to maintain a high-quality refuge for shorebirds and wildlife today. In fact, ISSR is considered one of the largest and most successful mitigations in the United States. The original area was ~2500 acres, but the reserve has now expanded to more than 3,600 acres to include a mitigation bank.

Kennecott’s employees work with other agencies to preserve and enhance the refuge. ISSR is part of the Great Salt Lake wetland ecosystem and is located on the shoreline of Gilbert Bay, the southern end of the Great Salt Lake. The system includes mitigation wetlands for the Salt Lake International Airport and the National Audubon Society’s Gillmor Sanctuary. The protected areas around the Great Salt Lake are part of an even larger network, the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network. That’s because many of the birds that visit the Great Salt Lake fly as far as Alaska to the north and Argentina to the south. More than 150,000 birds representing approximately 200 species visit the site each year. 

The ISSR is a significant example of Kennecott’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Rio Tinto also manages biodiversity in other locations around the world, from the Gobi Desert to Western Australia.

The ISSR is closed to the public, but the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources provides information on access to nearby Farmington Bay on certain days of the year.

Learn more about the ISSR here.