Salt Lake City, UT — The Utah state legislature last week approved a $5 million appropriation, as part of its state budget, to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats.
“This marks the first public dollars appropriated to restore the depleted salt surface since the land speed racing community began its quest more than 30 years ago,” Tom Burkland, vice chairman of the Save the Salt Foundation, said in a news release.
“This is a job well done,” he added. “Land speed racers the world over say, ‘Thank you, Utah!’”
In the past few weeks, Utah legislators received more than 1,000 emails from members of the motorsports community, helping focus much-needed attention on the critical funding request.
Lawmakers authorized the Utah Department of Natural Resources to create a Restore Bonneville program to increase the volume of salt being pumped onto the Bonneville Salt Flats by Intrepid Potash, Inc. Racing community representatives have worked with lawmakers, regulators and Intrepid Potash, Inc., to craft the 10-year project. Salt brine pumping levels will dramatically rise as a result of infrastructure upgrades. The racing venue should gradually expand from its current length of about eight miles with the goal of reaching its original 13-mile length.
State funds will become available July 1. Utah lawmakers made the appropriation contingent on securing a commitment for monies from outside sources. The bulk of the estimated additional $45 million needed over 10 years will come from the federal government, with contributions as well from the motorsports community. Attention will now turn to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to appropriate funds and make commitments so that Restore Bonneville becomes a reality. BLM oversees the Salt Flats.