National Landmark Needs Salt Replenishment Program
A number of prominent organizations have formed the “Save the Salt Coalition” to protect the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) from continued deterioration due to salt brine removal from potash mining. The Coalition is now working with government officials, mine operators and others to develop a permanent program to replenish the salt.
Founding members of the Coalition include the Bonneville Nationals (BNI), Save the Salt Foundation, Source Interlink Media, Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), SEMA Action Network (SAN) and Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA). Doug Evans, Executive Vice President, Source Interlink Media, has been named Chairman of the “Save the Salt Coalition.”
“The Bonneville Salt Flats is an essential element of American motorsports heritage,” said Evans. “Since 1949, Hot Rod Magazine has covered the August speed trials and worked with government officials to permit continued racing. The legacy of land speed racing covers every imaginable type of vehicle, from hot rods to jet cars, electric cars and motorcycles. These efforts are a proving ground for new technological achievements in power plants, composite materials and aerodynamics.”
The BSF is a unique geological formation that is also central to the history of motorsports and the industries that support motorsports. Scores of world land speed records have been set on the densely-packed remnants of a huge prehistoric lake. The area is so flat, it is possible to see the curvature of the earth. The BSF has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
Decades of salt removal by an adjoining potash mining operation have damaged the BSF. Between 1963 and 1982, an estimated 11 million tons of salt was withdrawn. By the mid-1990s, the historic raceway had lost over 18 inches of salt crust. Originally 96,000 acres in size, the BSF has been reduced to about 30,000 acres and those lands are threatened unless the salt removed to extract potash is then returned to the BSF. The potash operation is located on federal lands leased by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Coalition is seeking to protect the BSF and permit continued mining. One solution is to pump brine water back onto the salt flats during the winter and spring, when the basin is naturally covered with water. As the water evaporates during the summer months, the salt flats will increase in thickness and hardness, and the underground aquifer supporting the salt crust will be replenished. A five-year test program begun in 1997 demonstrated that the solution will work. The Coalition is now seeking an equivalent, permanent program.
For more information, please visit the “Save the Salt Coalition” website at www.savethesalt.org.