Since about 1916 salt has been harvested from the Bonneville Salt Flats and processed to produce potassium chloride (potash) and magnesium. Evaporative mining operations have pumped away thousands of tons of salt solution each year for more than 50 years now.
Only a small percentage of the salt that is pumped away from the salt flats is potash or magnesium. Most of the white salt that was removed has gone into the mining company's pond systems adjacent to the flats. The size of the lake bed has been reduced by about 70%. This salt cannot be replaced on the dry lake by natural processes. The Bonneville Salt Flats are now thin and brown with mud showing through in places.
The amount of salt that has been pumped to the holding ponds is huge. It must be pumped back to where it came from or we will be left with a soft gray mud flat. One of America's cherished landscapes ahd historic places will be lost.
The Federal government, State of Utah, The Department orf the interiour and especially the Bureau of Land Management are all complicit in the mismanagement of this National Treasure.
Save the Salt !!!
Team Vesco has supported Save the Salt for decades. It was in the 1980s that Rick Vesco and Larry Volk began a serious investigation to see what could be done to save the thinning salt crust. They called together a group of racing enthusiasts and Save the Salt was born. The group grew to include racers from around the world, businesses, legislators, the Bureau of Land Management and the mining companies. A plan was formulated to return the salt to the racing surface by way of a pumping project. For a number of years the salt held its own. But now Save the Salt once again needs the support of concerned citizens to join in the fight to protect this unique, fragile natural wonder - The Bonneville Salt Flats. Join Save the Salt.
In August, 2015, a group of Utah race supports joined together to work directly with the state of Utah, congressional leaders & media to form the Utah Alliance. This local group's primary focus is to bring Utah to an awareness of the dire conditions and threatened extinction of the Bonneville Salt Flats. The International Course, where famous records have been set for more than half a century is virtually unusable as it is now. State officials are alarmed and advocating for the BLM to take their responsibility of protecting public lands seriously.
Below are links to media coverage of our latest efforts to Save the Bonneville Salt Flats.
This salt block from the mining area, pond #25 was used in testing the quality of the salt before the five year Salt Laydown Project began. This "burn out" stress test was conducted at Vesco's MC shop in Nov. 1996.
During the "burn out" the smoke filled the shop with large explosions occurring as the block of salt got so hot it created steam pockets just under the surface which blew out. "The traction was as good as concrete." Labratory tests on the block found it to be 99% sodium cholride - SALT! A track surface of this quality will be perfect to sustain land speed racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Two containers of the the first water pumped onto the salt in 1997. Note: The percentage of salt, 24.9%. (Notice the salt crystals). We are currently working to improve the salt laydown techniques for pumping as well as other methods to transport and distribute salt to the track and depleted areas. Our goal is to reach the 99% pure, "hard as concrete" salt surface which will insure the future of land speed racing. You may contact Rick Vesco with any questions regarding the salt quality 435-772-7808.