SEMA eNews Vol. 23, No. 32, August 6, 2020

SEMA Calls on U.S. Department of the Interior to Spend Money Appropriated by Congress to Save the Bonneville Salt Flats

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agreed to create a “Restore Bonneville” program in April 2020, which will dramatically increase the amount of salt being pumped onto the Bonneville Salt Flats. The U.S. Congress appropriated more than $2 million in the BLM’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget to start the program, although the Interior Department has not yet released the funds. SEMA is calling on the land-speed racing community to contact the Interior Department and request that it allocate funding for Bonneville before the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2020). To submit a letter to the Interior Department, click here.

Over the past several years, SEMA and the Save the Salt Coalition have worked with BLM, UDNR, Intrepid Potash and U.S. Congress to help create and begin funding the 10-year “Restore Bonneville” program. It is modeled after a 1997–2002 pilot program that pumped an average of 1.25 million tons of salt—dramatically more than the current 300,000 tons or less each year. The program strengthened the salt crust, and the salt flats began to expand before the program ended. Bonneville's existence is endangered under the current pumping levels. The Utah State Legislature funded the first year of the “Restore Bonneville” program at $1 million, although the agency is waiting to release the “Restore Bonneville” funds until the federal government allocates matching funds.  

The 2020 race season at Bonneville will commence with Speed Week (August 8-14, 2020) organized by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and Bonneville Nationals Inc. (BNI). The organizations have conducted the event since 1949. More than 250 teams, ranging from streamliners topping more than 500 mph to vintage 50cc motorcycles, are entered in this year’s event. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, SCTA/BNI have been working with local, state and federal government agencies to ensure the health and safety of participants of the event, which is set for one of the most socially-distanced racing venues in the world.

For details, contact Eric Snyder at erics@sema.org.

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