SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 45, November 10, 2011

SEMA Urges Federal Government to Require Mandatory Salt Replenishment Program for Bonneville Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) is a national treasure and unique resource of international significance central to the history of motorsports. Since the first speed record attempts in 1914, hundreds of land speed records have been set and broken at the BSF in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes. For decades, the Salt Flats have decreased in size, strength and thickness because salt has been removed by an adjoining potash mining operation and not adequately replaced.

Preservation of the Salt Flats is under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM has issued an “Environmental Assessment” of the current mining operation that addresses future salt removal and replenishment. SEMA submitted comments to the BLM as part of the Save the Salt Coalition, a diverse group of racing enthusiast organizations. The Coalition urged the agency to adopt “Alternative B,” which requires a mandatory salt replenishment program. Salt removed from the BSF to obtain potash will be replaced in the same amount or more. The current mine owner, Intrepid Potash–Wendover LLC, supports this approach.

Alternative B would essentially restart a 1997–2002 program in which the previous mine owner pumped brine water back onto the salt flats at an annual rate of 1.5 million tons of salt. The project stabilized the salt flats, significantly improving the underground aquifer while hardening the salt crust. However, the BLM allowed the program to expire. The new program will be mandatory and verifiable. The Coalition will also be pursuing supplemental programs for replenishing the salt, beyond that mandated by the BLM. 

Click here for a pdf copy of the Coalition comments.

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at stuartg@sema.org or visit www.savethesalt.org