For example, Lee and Louise Bean of Bountiful “have been going up there every summer for half a century,” Lee Bean said.
“My wife inherited a cabin on the lake from her parents. We have enjoyed the lake,” he said.
They are among hundreds of Davis County residents who have joined Bear Lake Watch, a group that seeks to preserve the quality of the lake and surrounding area. It was founded by the late Merlin Olsen and has about 1,000 members.
“We are always concerned about the preservation, that it’s available for recreation,” Bean said, adding, “We’ve been happy to support the organization” and its effort to promote quality on the lake.
“We have a house with lakefront property,” said Jay Moyes of Bountiful. “I think there are some challenges up there, but by and large, Bear Lake Watch takes the view that supports ours.”
For example, with the lake level down, some recreationalists like to use the exposed lake bed as an ATV playground, he said.
“They drop oil, etc.,” Moyes said, emphasizing, “there needs to be kind of a thoughtful policy on this. There isn’t a lot of money for enforcement.”
He noted that the lake used to be “much more constant” in its water levels, before the lake started being tapped as a reservoir, with a canal built connecting it to the Bear River.
“We end up with a lot of water coming from Bear River, which passes through a lot of the high potassium, which doesn’t all filter out, and is basically fertilizer,” Moyes said.
“It’s a beautiful lake, like no other in the country,” he said of its distinctive turquoise look.
“I think they do a good job, work with everybody,” to deal with such issues as “the tension” between irrigators and recreationalists, Moyes said of Dave and Claudia Cottle.
Both now retired, they spend virtually full time on running the nonprofit, assisted by member donations and a board of trustees. Dave Cottle’s family is part of the longtime fabric of the area.
“Water quantity and quality” are three big issues the couple try to keep abreast of, although it’s not as simple as it might sound.
Bear Lake sits in both Idaho and Utah, while Wyoming must be factored in because of its connection to the Bear River, which starts and ends in Utah, but flows through all three states.
“Our main goal is to protect the lake itself, but not just the water,” Claudia Cottle said. “All the ways that people use the lake affects the quality of the Bear Lake experience.”
Some recent issues include impact of species on land and water and weeds invading the beach, she said. A Bear Lake Blueprint has been a big focus over the past year, put together with assistance from Envision Utah.
“The spirit of collaboration is really there,” Dave Cottle said, referring back to the tension referred to earlier. “We work with water operators, the power company, all of them.
“We want to make sure it (lake) is there for all of us, and for our children and grandchildren, to enjoy,” he said.
“We feel like it’s very important to protect the lake,” Claudia Cottle said.
It means balancing the interests of tourism, which sees the area’s population magnified by several times in the summer over the winter level, and agriculture.
“It’s such a family place,” she said of the lake. “It’s fun to see that many people along the lake.”
“I think they (Cottles) do a good job. They work with everybody, do a reasonably good job to come up with solutions that work for everybody,” Moyes said.