Land & Environment

Bear Lake Research Project Grant Recipients Announced

By Rachel Lee |

The Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air hosted a kickoff event for the Bear Lake Needs Assessment project on Oct. 26.

The project is an interdisciplinary research effort that will help inform and impact future management actions on Bear Lake and surrounding areas. Overall, the project comprises three main components: a comprehensive report (compiled by ILWA), an interdisciplinary research program (conducted by USU researchers), and an outreach component (managed by ILWA).

During the event, more than $150,000 in grant funding was awarded to 11 different projects, representing seven of USU’s colleges.

Assessing Bear Lake Environmental Concerns of Scientists, Residents, and Community Organizations

Elizabeth Brunner, Jessica Schad, Stacia Ryder

The research will engage students from across three graduate courses and one undergraduate course in both historical and qualitative research related to Bear Lake. Data collected will provide insights into the environmental concerns related to increased recreation, in-migration and climate change.

Autonomous Submarine Sensing for Shoreline and Infrastructure Analysis in the Bear Lake Region

Mario Harper

This project emphasizes the integration of the advanced Blue ROV 2 autonomous submarine robotic system to study the underwater environment of the lake. Objectives include generating detailed longitudinal maps, sampling fishery health, assessing shoreline degradation and evaluating underwater infrastructure integrity.

Bear Lake Chemistry Affecting Eurasian Watermilfoil Growth and Herbicide Efficacy

Mirella Ortiz, Eric Westra, Corey Ransom, and Olanrewaju Adeyemi

An exploration of how herbicide behavior differs in Bear Lake’s water chemistry compared to other water sources, and how the difference affects Eurasian Watermilfoil near the lake.

Bear Lake Needs Assessment Project Documentation and Visualization

Jared Ragland

The project will provide photographic documentation of the critical work to locate, define and disseminate key issues within the sovereign lands of Bear Lake.

Communicating Science — Translating Research to Outreach and Education

Julie Young

Students in the Scientific Communication graduate course will produce outreach and education material in collaboration with the other research projects supported through the grant program.

Cultural and Historical Resources of Bear Lake: A Bibliography and Digital Collection From USU Special Collections

Lawrence Culver

A class cohort research project that aims to collect Bear Lake resources already present at USU, make them more visible, accessible and organized, and facilitate their use for research, public outreach and awareness, and longer-term research and lake management.

Detection and Quantification of Nanoparticle Contamination in Bear Lake

Yiming Su, Xia Li, Junjie Tang

An investigation of what kind and quantity of metal-based nanoparticles and nanoplastics are present in Bear Lake, and how human activity on or near the lake combines with seasonal changes to affect these concentrations.

Development of Machine Learning and/or Deep Learning Model to Explore Climate Scenarios for Bear Lake

Brennan Bean, Kevin Moon, Wei Zhang, Ben Shaw, Scout Jarman

The project will create models to predict annual min/max Bear Lake elevation levels, which will be coupled with downscaled estimates of future climate projections. These model estimates will be embedded in online data dashboards that will allow state and local officials to interactively explore lake elevation projections based on various future climate scenarios and model fitting assumptions.

Establishing a Baseline to Assess Impact of Restoration Actions Reconnecting Bear Lake Tributaries to Increase Resilience and Abundance of Native Fishes

Timothy Walsworth, Phaedra Budy, Jim DeRito, Tyler Coleman

The project will explore how reconnecting fragmented spawning tributaries to Bear Lake will impact habitat availability of adfluvial Bonneville Cutthroat trout.

Improving Bear Lake Water Budget Through Better Rain-Snow Separation

Wei Zhang, Cody Ratterman, Grace Affram, Brennan Bean

This project will examine how the water balance in the Bear Lake changed over the past and will change in the future with adjusted temperature thresholds.

Irrigation Performance Connection to Water Quality in Big Creek.

Burdette Barker, Reganne Briggs, Sena Bildim, Matt Yost

The project will look at the potential differences in water quality between surface irrigation and sprinkler irrigation return flows, and determine which, if either, of these irrigation types has potentially less negative impact on the water quality of Bear Lake.


Rachel Lee
Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air


Brian Steed
Executive Director
JQL Institute for Land, Water, and Air

Anna McEntire
Office of Research
Executive Director of Research Communications
(435) 797-7631


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