The Bonneville Salt Flats—one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and an iconic bucket-list travel destination for automotive enthusiasts everywhere—is in dire straits.
Over time, the hard crust that forms the surface of the flats has gradually eroded and shifted southward, leaving it thinner and…well…less salty. Surprisingly, the surface is reported to be so soft in some areas that it may soon become unsafe for fast driving—a sad reality that the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association is hoping to change.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the association is asking the Bureau of Land Management to spend $50 million to ramp up an existing experimental “salt lay-down” program that it and federal land managers believe could thicken the crust.
Since the late ’90s, Utah has been pumped brine from potash mine ponds south of Interstate 80 to the salt flats, the article reported. The proposal would accelerate these efforts through a new 10-year program that would pump up to 540 million gallons of brine onto the flats in hopes of depositing 1.5 million tons of new salt onto the flats each year.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the $50 million price tag takes into account the need for “construction of new ponds and ditches and installation of pipelines and pumps.”
The Specialty Equipment Market Association got in on the action, asking Utah residents and others who care about the Bonneville Salt Flats to send a letter to the state’s lawmakers urging them to help fund the program through the state’s budget. SEMA and other backers of the proposal are lobbying for a $5 million appropriation to help persuade the federal government to cover the remainder of the cost.