Some people are in a better position to address these questions than others. What follows is a letter to the Director of the Bureau of Land Management from a guy who knows. Carl Olson has been involved in motorsports his whole life from running organizations that conduct motorsports, to fighting to keep race tracks open and to developing specifications for equipment to make racers safer. He is a well-respected, serious racer. His views are important!
Dear Director Abbey:
I first visited the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the year 1967. The purpose of my visit was to attend the Bonneville National Speed Trials. As a dedicated motorsport enthusiast from the age of three, and multi-discipline motorsport participant from the age of twelve, my visit to Bonneville was the culmination of a dream to experience the site of the many infamous land speed record attempts that I'd heard and read about as a young boy. At that 1967 event, I observed a vehicle exceed the speed of three hundred miles per hour for the first time. I was so awestruck by the uniqueness and magnificence of the salt flats that I made myself a promise to return at some point in my life, set a land speed record and gain membership in the Bonneville 200 MPH Club.
It wasn't until 1991 that I was able to return to Bonneville in pursuit of that dream. Alas, in 1994, I drove to a two-way average speed of 234.276 MPH, established the record for the A / Gas Modified Roadster class, and became a lifetime member of the 200 MPH Club. I have since returned to Bonneville every year as either a participant or crew member. I have served multiple terms as a member of the 200 MPH Club Board of Directors, and will be returning with a new vehicle again this year for further record attempts.
I must say that I was deeply shocked and disappointed when I recognized the severe deterioration of the salt flats between my first visit in 1967, and my return in 1991. I continue to be shocked and disappointed by the ongoing deterioration each and every year, and have come to the conclusion that in the absence of a serious effort to stem the deterioration, not only will the salt flats no longer be suitable for high speed racing activities but will most likely become a mere shadow of its former glory as one of the most unique geographic sites in the United States of America.
When it became obvious to anyone concerned that the direct and undeniable cause of the deterioration was the potash mining operation in Wendover, I strongly supported, and continue to support, the Save the Salt organization. When a deal was struck several years ago with the mining operator (Riley Industries at that time) to pump salt brine back onto the salt flats after the potash had been removed, there was great cause for optimism. In spite of Riley Industry's failure to meet their total commitments in a timely fashion, some improvement of salt thickness and quality was definitely observed. Now that the mining operation has been taken over by Intrepid Potash, it appears that there's a serious reluctance to participate in a replenishment program, and that reluctance would appear to be with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Bureau of Land Management.
Over the years, we've seen the BLM undertake one study after another in an attempt to identify the source of salt flats deterioration. To this observer, these studies would appear to be nothing more than stalling tactics in order to allow the ongoing rape of the salt flats by the potash mining "operator du jour". In spite of the totally obvious source of the problem, these operators have continued to be allowed to destroy this magnificent public treasure with impunity. The time for action to halt this destruction is now, and it starts with you.
The Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) is central to the history of motorsports. Scores of world land speed records have been set on the Flats. The area is a "National Landmark" and an "Area of Critical Environmental Concern". The BLM is responsible for protecting lands that have these two designations.
I am seeking an assurance from the BLM that the upcoming duplicative Environmental Assessment will require the mining operator to implement a permanent salt replenishment program, that will require that salt be replenished with the same or more salt than is removed from the mining operation.
The salt must be of the same or better quality, and the replenishment program must occur over a period of many months so the salt is dispensed throughout the BSF basin and the underground aquifer is replenished.
No salt should be removed from the BSF region for commercial sale.
The program must be permanent and verifiable.
CARL V. OLSON
Carl and Save the Salt need your help and they need it now! Please get in touch with your representatives in Congress and demand that they contact the Bureau of Land Management and insist that they end the mining in the area surrounding the Bonneville Salt Flats. Ask that they send to you a copy of the letter they send to the Director of the BLM. Also ask that they support legislation which is being introduced in Congress to end the mining and ask that they support hearings to draw attention to the destruction of this irreplaceable national landmark.
How do you find your representatives? Go to www.contactingthecongress.org. Type in your zip code and click “submit it.” This will provide the information necessary to e-mail or phone your representatives.
Last, please forward a copy of the e-mail you send to your representatives to firstname.lastname@example.org and send Save the Salt copies of the letters your representatives send to you. You can scan and send the letters to email@example.com or mail them to Save the Salt at Russ Deane, P.O. Box 27747, Panama City, FL 32411
Without your help, the Bonneville Salt Flats may not survive.
Save the Salt, End the Mining