Letter: Without immediate intervention, Utah’s landmark will become the Bonneville Mud Flats

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Bonneville Salt Flats, comprised of mostly sodium chloride that forms a hard, white salt crust and home to numerous land speed records, are covered in nine inches of water, forming a shallow lake on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. With nowhere for the rain and snow melt to go, precipitation slowly evaporates throughout the year to restore the flat's delicate salt layer.

There is no mystery as to why the Bonneville Salt Flats are disappearing (”Decadeslong effort to regrow Utah’s vanishing salt flats may have backfired, Feb. 5).

The federal government issued leases in the 1960s allowing Bonneville salt to be transferred to an adjoining potash mine via 14 miles of collection ditches. Tens of millions of tons of Bonneville salt are now sitting in ponds on the other side of Interstate 80. The study does not recognize the damage done by the salt extraction ditches which have carried away Bonneville salt and, simultaneously, prevented circulation of the shallow brine aquifer beneath Bonneville.

For decades, the racing community called on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to rescind the leases, but the appeal fell on deaf ears. In the 1990s, the racing community worked with the mine owner to start pumping back salt after the potash was removed. The BLM needs to collaborate with the mine owner and immediately identify an alternative water source to expand the pumping program and return the salt. Otherwise, a national historic landmark will soon be called the Bonneville Mud Flats.

Stuart Gosswein, Save the Salt Foundation, Bountiful

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