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Wednesday, 19 January 2022 13:02

SEMA Applauds Public-Private Effort to Save the Bonneville Salt Flats

Land speed racers at the starting line. A new water well and weather and hydrologic equipment have been installed as part of the Restore Bonneville program to help increase the volume of salt pumped onto the Bonneville Salt Flats. Land speed racers at the starting line. A new water well and weather and hydrologic equipment have been installed as part of the Restore Bonneville program to help increase the volume of salt pumped onto the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) welcomes the installation of a new water well and weather and hydrologic equipment used for measuring salt growth conditions as part of its broader Restore Bonneville program.

Federal and state funds were released last year to install the monitoring equipment and help increase the volume of salt pumped onto the Bonneville Salt Flats this year to a total of up to 500,000 tons.

 

As part of the Restore Bonneville program, SEMA and the racing community joined forces with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Utah Geological Survey (UGS) and Intrepid Potash Inc. in the collaborative restoration effort.

 

Originally in the 1960s, the racing venue was more than 13 miles in length, but the course is now 8 miles or less. According to a study by the BLM, the Salt Flats have also shrunk in size from 96,000 acres to about 30,000 acres.

 

Located in northwestern Utah, the Bonneville Salt Flats are composed of densely packed salt remnants of an ancient lakebed formed over thousands of years. They serve as a unique stage set for movies, commercials, marathons and rocket club launches, and possess rare physical qualities that make it the perfect venue for land speed racing, such as providing a cool surface that doesn’t overheat tires.

 

Since 1914, hundreds of land speed records have been set and broken in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes. Speed Week, the marquee event at Bonneville, began in 1949, with scores of racers and thousands of spectators descending on Bonneville in the quest for records.

 

Bonneville serves another important role as a crucial natural resource for potash used primarily in fertilizers. To obtain potash, salt brine is collected in large solar evaporation ponds, from which potash is separated out and processed. The remaining salt is stored and may then be returned to the Salt Flats as salt brine.

 

Beginning in the 1960s, the BLM issued leases to the north of Interstate 80, where...


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