As Utah Alliance member Rick Vesco listens, Roger Lessman explains the September 14th Tour route as Russ (L) and Eric (R) Eyres look on.


Tour participants examine a 16-inch deep hole dug at the 7-mile mark in a graphic display of salt crust loss on the high speed race course.

September 14, 2015 (Wendover, UT) – The Utah Alliance and Save the Salt Coalition met with a variety of stakeholder groups at the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) in Utah this week to discuss potential solutions for restoring the historic racing venue. The BSF has been in the spotlight following cancellation this year of five major racing events due to weather and deteriorating salt conditions.  In response, the Utah Alliance organized a tour of the area with government officials who oversee the BSF, mine operators, geologists, engineers, and other stakeholder groups.  The tour allowed the parties to then engage in follow-up discussions and begin identifying tangible restoration actions.

“Everyone displayed a willingness to come together to find a solution,” said Dennis Sullivan, Chairman of the Utah Alliance,  “There was a mutual respect demonstrated among the public agencies, private entities and racers.  We all need to learn more from each other as we all have specific observations and experiences that need to be combined with scientific data to provide a viable way forward.”


Utah Alliance Tour Guide Rick Vesco atop the Salduro Loop dike explains the erosion and point of original brine collection ditch.

The Utah Alliance and Save the Salt Coalition were joined by staff from: Utah Governor Herbert’s office, Senator Mike Lee’s office, Bureau of Land Management, Intrepid Potash-Wendover, Utah Department of Natural Resources, University of Utah’s Dr. Brenda Bowen, Brent Bingham, Mayor of Wendover, Utah, Councilman of West Wendover, Nevada, and a number of land speed racers.

The Utah Alliance and Save the Salt Coalition will next present a position statement to the stakeholders identifying a number of short- and long-term actions to be considered. Priority will be given to determine how to expand brine pumping and mitigate mud contamination.

IMG_9262 (1)

Save The Salt Treasurer and ‘defacto” geologist Russ Eyres updates tour participants on his 12-years of locating race courses and associated salt crust measurements.

“Although concerns about deterioration at Bonneville have existed for decades, today marked the first time officials representing government, industry and racers sat at the same table to discuss solutions,” said Doug Evans, Chairman of the Save the Salt Coalition.  “We are finally at the starting line in the race to save Bonneville.”

The groups indicated that no quick fixes existed to resolve issues related to the condition of the salt.  However, they believe that given the high level of cooperation, the historic, internationally famous speedway will eventually be restored to safe racing conditions.
The Save the Salt Coalition is an international group of businesses and organizations with a vested interest in the BSF.  Major LSR sanctioning organizations are members of both groups.  The two groups have partnered on the shared mission of restoring the BSF as the premier venue for setting world land speed records.  The collaboration allows experts within the groups to undertake specific roles and projects.
The Utah Alliance is a group of land speed racing individuals that live in or have connections with the State of Utah through employment or governmental agencies. The Utah Alliance works in Conjunction with the Save the Salt Coalition to “Preserve Our National Treasure – The Bonneville Salt Flats – As well as develop and execute a Comprehensive Reclamation Plan.”

Utah Alliance Leadership:


Racer Rick Vesco graphically demonstrates what the land speed racing community needs to safely race on the Bonneville Salt Falts; as he hammers with conviction the salt is not damaged at all.

DENNIS SULLIVAN – Chairman, USFRA President
RICK VESCO – Save the Salt Founding Member
LARRY VOLK – USFRA Founding member
GARY WILKINSON – Save The Salt Vice Chairman, USFRA
HUGH COLTHARP – USFRA Treasurer, USFRA Founding member
TOM BURKLAND – Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials
RUSS EYRES – Save The Salt Treasurer, SCTA/BNI Liaison

Utah Alliance Partners:

“LandSpeed” LOUISE ANN NOETH – Media Contact
TERRY NISH – Nish Motorsports, Research & Racing History
MIKE NISH – Nish Motorsports, Research & Racing History
RUSS DEANE – SEMA/Save The Salt Legal Counsel
ASHLEY AILSWORTH – SEMA/Save The Salt Legal Counsel
STUART GOSSWEIN – SEMA/Save The Salt Public Relations
CHAD BOOTH – AYL TV Salt Lake City, Media
Utah Alliance Supporters:

DICK ROSETTA – Utah Sports Hall Of Fame, Past Salt Lake Tribune Sports Editor
GREG MILLER – Director, Larry H Miller Family of Companies



SAVE THE SALT COALITION                            UTAH ALLIANCE

 Contact:   Louise Ann Noeth |    805.312.0893 |

BSF washed out 2009

Land Racing Advocates Join Forces for Bonneville


September 8, 2015 – The Save the Salt Coalition and Utah Alliance are working closely together as advocates for the land speed racing (LSR) community to protect the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF). The following is a report on current actions.

The Save the Salt Coalition is an international group of businesses and organizations with a vested interest in the BSF. The Utah Alliance provides expertise and connections at the state and local level. Major LSR sanctioning organizations are members of both groups. The two groups have partnered on the shared mission of restoring the BSF as the premier venue for setting world land speed records. The collaboration allows experts within the groups to undertake specific projects.

The cancellation of four of the five major racing events for 2015 due to weather and deteriorating conditions has helped place a spotlight on Bonneville. As a result, the Save the Salt Coalition and Utah Alliance have already had extensive discussions with officials at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which oversees the BSF, mining officials, geologists, engineers, lawmakers in Congress and at the state and local level. Numerous press interviews have also conveyed the plight of the BSF to the world via newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs.

Two educational meetings have been now scheduled: one for the public (Sept. 9) and another for elected representatives, government officials, industry and other interested stakeholders (Sept. 14).

  • Wednesday, September 9, 2015: A one-hour informational meeting
  • “100 years of Bonneville-Racing History from the Racers Perspective” presented by Louise Ann Noeth
  • 4PM
  • Totem’s Restaurant, 538 S. Redwood Rd., Salt Lake City.
  • Land speed cars will be on display in the parking area at 3:00 pm.
  • The public is encouraged to attend, and press and public officials have been invited.

The second briefing will take place on September 14th at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Representatives from the two Coalitions will conduct a private tour and present the racer’s perspective to government, industry and local community leadership.

The private tour will allow the parties to engage in follow-up discussions and begin identifying tangible restoration actions. Both groups have already identified a number of short- and long-term actions to be considered. They include expanded brine pumping, barriers to keep the pumped brine within the racing area, and targeted dry salt laydowns. Reaching consensus on actions to be taken will be assisted by BSF core samplings to be taken this fall and winter by geologists, and consultations with engineers and water experts.

Conveying information is also critical. Toward that effort, the Utah Alliance is creating a website repository of photographic, film and historical documentation about the BSF available to everyone. The website will be unveiled in the near future. It will be an additional resource for the main website which serves to keep the public informed of day-to-day actions.

For more information, visit

 Utah Alliance

Leadership: Dennis Sullivan (President USFRA); Rick Vesco (founding member STS); Larry Volk (founding member USFRA); Gary Wilkinson (Save the Salt; Vice Chairman, USFRA); Hugh Coltharp (Treasurer & founding member USFRA); Tom Burkland (Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials); Russ Eyres (Save the Salt; SCTA/BNI Liaison); Roger Lessman (Nevada State Govt. Liaison).

Save the Salt Coalition

Chairman: Doug Evans, Chief Operating Officer, Luken Communications

Public Information Officer: Louise Ann Noeth / 805.312.0893 /

Coalition Contact: Stuart Gosswein,

Members: ACCUS, FIA, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC), Bonneville Nationals Inc. (BNI), Bonneville 200 MPH Club, Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials, Cook’s Land Speed Events, East Coast Timing Association, FIA Land Speed Records Commission, LandSpeed Productions, Luken Communications, Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), Performance Warehouse Association (PWA), Save the Salt Foundation, Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), Speed Demon, The Enthusiast Network (TEN), Utah Alliance, Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA), United States Automobile Club (USAC).


Below is a historical snapshot of what has occurred out on the Bonneville Salt Flats over the last century. It looks at motorsports, mining, scientific and engineering studies, federal land management and legislative actions. The salt speedway is in trouble. While some insist remedial action is being taken to spin a positive outlook, the bigger, long-term picture remains bleak.

What remains gloriously intact for more than 11,ooo years has been virtually decimated in less than a century. Many factors are in play. Bonneville, as Hemingway once remarked, is a “movable feast.”

Slide 1

Bonneville Salt Flats Timeline

The Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) were originally called “The Salduro Marsh.” Salduro means “hard or rock hard salt.” Geologists describe the salt flats as centered in a bowl shaped area rich in concentrated minerals and underlying heavy carbonate mud. Based on the length, width and depth described in historical reports, the area under the five foot plus salt crust can be described as a “shallow dinner plate.”

This is critical to understanding the area’s salt loss and surface crust quality problems created by human interference throughout the past 100 years. The 1% annual loss of salt crust exposes a progressively enlarging mud around the perimeter. This increases dust pollution and rain erosion mud transfers onto the salt crust.

Prior to the 1900s, Bonneville’s crust was unobstructed from Wendover, 80 miles east to Knolls and stretched some 100 miles to the south. Australia’s Lake Gairdner of present day mirrors Bonneville’s past condition.


Ill-fated Donner-Reed party crosses the BSF on the way to  California. Wagon tracks can still be seen on the edges of the BSF.


G. K. Gilbert publishes “Lake Bonneville: U.S. Geological Survey” May 1, 1890. Carpenter, Everett, Ground water in Box Elder and Tooele Counties, Utah


Bill Rishel becomes first man to cross the salt flats on a bicycle in a 3,000-mile coast-to-coast race. A.L. Westward of the National Trails Association, declares BSF “the greatest speedway on earth.”


Western Pacific Railroad line constructed through Bonneville Salt Flats. This westward rail expansion pierced the Salduro Marsh dead center towards Wendover. Records and studies of the work performed cite numerous difficulties encountered in constructing the railroad due to the salt flats thickness and hardness.


Mining begins in the area with a team of horses and a single plow blade. The town of Salduro was at the center of the thickest section of the salt crust.


Future Salt Lake City Mayor, Ab Jenkins became the first person to ride a motorized vehicle across the salt flats on his motorcycle.


Doc: U.S. Geological  Survey Water-Supply Paper 333, 1913.


First unofficial world land speed record set at the BSF by Teddy Tetzlaff. Tetzlaff remarked on the smoothness of the salt and how the coolness of the salt surface did not overheat tires. Top tire companies began testing tires on the BSF by sponsoring events. Utah Governor William Spry was on hand to watch Tetlaff’s racing and rode with Tetzlaff in the record-setting car on the flats.

Chicago: “The Railway Age Gazette” pronounces “this natural racing-track is a level bed of salt, 98 % pure…The salt-beds are 65 miles long and 8 miles wide. The estimated depth, in the middle, is 12 – 15 feet.”


First recorded destruction of BSF. Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 12, 1915 article: “Mighty Bed Of Salt Being Scooped Up For Use Of Mankind.” Opening paragraph states, “The world’s greatest natural speedway is being torn up and ground up and dispensed to the public in cartons and packages…,The largest deposit of pure salt yet discovered is being marred, is disappearing…,The saline deposit covers a surface area approximately sixty-five miles long and twenty-five miles wide.”


Doc:  Anonymous, Potash in the lake muds of western Utah: U.S. Geol. Survey Press Bulletin 271, May, 1916. Gale, H.S., Potash in Salduro salt deposits: Eng. and Min. Jour., vol. 102 pp. 780-82 , Oct. 23, 1916


Utah-Salduro Company (subsidiary of Solvay Process Co.) begins harvesting minerals from the BSF for potash production

Doc: Gale, H.S., Potash in 1916: U.S. Geol. Survey Mineral Resources, 1916, pt 2, pp. 98 – 100, 1917


Brine collection ditch dug at Salduro Loop, spoil from the ditches piled up to construct the dike around Salduro Loop.

These ditches would later be abandoned, leaving mud tailings within just feet of the historical speed and endurance racetrack that would, through wind and water erosion, begin to infiltrate salt crust.


Congress gives 40 sq. miles to The Bonneville Corporation. Combined with the 49 sq. miles acquired from the Utah-Salduro Co., the mingin company now has a total 57,500 acres.


Victory Highway (Highway 40) constructed through BSF. Future mayor of Salt Lake City, Ab Jenkins, raced a train from Salt Lake City to Wendover and won as part of celebration.


Study: Thomas B. Nolan, Potash Brines in the Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah, U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 795-B. “The salt is reported to reach a maximum thickness of 5 feet near the central portion of the deposit. The greatest amount found during boring, however, was 3 1/2 feet near Salduro station. From the maximum it thins rather gradually to zero at the edge.”

1933 – 1957

Ab Jenkins begins his triple decade career of setting 56 AAA Contest Board National Speed and Endurance Records on BSF. Hundreds of records would follow.


First Internationally recognized World Land Speed Record set at BSF by Britain’s Sir Malcolm Campbell; new record prompts international land speed racing community to relocate all future efforts from Daytona Beach, Florida to the BSF. Ab Jenkins was directly responsible for epic shift.

Britain’s John Cobb sets 24-hour endurance  and  21 additional world speed records inside a week on the BSF. Jenkins, now Salt Lake City mayor, sets a land speed record on a Allis-Chalmers tractor.


Bonneville Ltd. acquires Salduro mining operation and revives potash production.

Ab Jenkins, SLC mayor, driving his “Mormon Meteor” designed by Augie Duesenberg, sets 72 records, some of which would stand for nearly 50 years.


Bureau of Land Management (BLM) becomes custodian of the BSF


Britain’s John Cobb runs his 400 mph race car on BSF as part of Utah’s Centennial. The official program declares “The salt is like concrete. Bonneville is the world’s finest race course for several reasons. Its extreme hardness gives speeding cars maximum traction…” 


First “Bonneville National Speed Trials” (precursor to modern “Speed Week”) held at the BSF


General Motors names its all–new 1957 Pontiac model “Bonneville” after Ab and Marvin Jenkins set every American records possible with new car.


Federal government issues potassium leases covering 24,699.83 acres on the BSF to Bonneville Ltd.; leases cover area north of the highway and just east of the BSF race tracks; collection ditches dug on leases to allow for withdrawal of salt brine for potash production


Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. acquires potash mining operation


Kaiser requests permission from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to begin pumping from the collection ditches north of Hwy 40 into the potash mining operation


Mining company abandons Salduro Loop ditch

Early 1960s-1970s

Racers began noticing a problem with the salt crust

Late 1960s-1970s

Studies undertaken Utah Geological and Mineralogical Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey to determine extent of salt loss at the BSF

1963 – 1970

Craig Breedlove driving “Spirit of America,” Art Arfons, Driving “Green Monster” and Gary Gabelich driving “The Blue Flame” focus worldwide attention on BSF driving handbuilt jet and rocket-powered cars that reclaiming World Land Speed Record from the British. From 407MPH, the Americans raised the bar to 622MPH.


Interstate 80 constructed across the BSF replacing Hwy 40


Hydrogeology of BSF studied by Utah Geological and Mineral Survey; study notes that brine under the salt flats is “collected by a system of ditches and transferred to solar evaporation ponds where potassium chloride salts are precipitated and harvested…”  and that “shallow brine aquifer is the uppermost 25 feet of lacustrine sediments.  Because the brine is harvested for its potash content, it has been explored in more detail than the rest of the hydrologic system.”


Utah Geological and Mineral Survey conducts study comparing salt crust thickness in July 1960 to October 1974 and determines there was a 100% decrease in cubic yards of salt crust over 4 feet thick during that time period


Bonneville Salt Flats Race Track added to National Register of Historic Places


U.S. Geological Survey and BLM study “Hydrology and Surface Morphology of the Bonneville Salt Flats and Pilot Valley Playa, Utah”; study concludes: “Weather cycles may partly explain changes on the Bonneville salt crust. But the activities of man, such as withdrawing brine and constructing surface-drainage barriers, have altered the hydrologic environment and have had a profound effect on the salt crust. Water-level data indicate that during 1976 brine was moving through the shallow-brine aquifer on the Salt Flats from the area of salt crust toward all areas of manmade discharge (brine-collection ditches east and south of the salt crust and alluvial-fan wells west of the salt crust).” Study added: “Elimination of brine withdrawals from the ditch system north of the interstate highway would eliminate a yearly loss of about 680 acre-feet of brine and 270,000 tons of salt.”


Britain’s Richard Noble abandons BSF for Nevada’s Black Rock Desert due to reduced length of the salt’s international speedway. This removes BSF as the absolute world record-setting site. Noble sets 633MPH record on Black Rock.


30,203 acres of the BSF designated as Area of Critical Environmental Concern and identified as the Bonneville Salt Flats Special Recreation Management Area


Rick Vesco documents photographically massive amounts of mud sloughing off the mining tailings next to the raceway installed by the mining operations. He also noted water being drawn off the surface of the salt flats into the NE collection ponds 17 miles in length.


Reilly Industries, Inc. acquires potash mining operation


BLM Recreational Lands Manager, Gregg Morgan ESPN interview notes, “We are concerned with the loss of salt on the perimeter and with the overall loss. The study we completed a year ago, which updates the one we did 14 years ago shows that we are losing 1% of salt from the surface each year. That amounts to 1.6 million tons annually. At that rate, in ten years possibly there will not be enough salt to race on and in thirty years not enough salt to sustain what we call the Bonneville Salt Flats.”     

Save the Salt  (STS), is founded by racers, businesses and community members. Save The Salt Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and to promote its history and motorsports legacy. The organization aspires to keep this national treasure available for future generations. 


After years of warning the BLM that conditions at the BSF are deteriorating, the racing community is apoplectic about poor conditions and continued salt loss; racers approach Congress in an attempt to force the BLM to take action


S. 1184 introduced on May 24, 1991 by Sen. Jake Garn (R-UT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to require Sec. of Interior to conduct a study to determine the nature and extent of the salt loss from the salt flat crust occurring at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah and authorizes appropriations for same; H.R. 1727 introduced on April 11, 1991 by Rep. James Hansen (R-UT) to require Sec. of Interior to conduct a study to determine the nature and extent of the salt loss from the salt flat crust occurring at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; H.R. 1096 amended on July 23, 1991 by Rep. Wayne Owens (D-UT) to require Sec. of Interior to conduct a study to determine the nature and extent of the salt loss from the salt flat crust occurring at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah


Due to shrinkage, the available speedway lengths force Bonneville Nationals, Speed Week officials, to change international timing procedures. No longer could they support the required two-way runs within an hour and concentrated on only setting national records.

 Public Land Order 6941 withdraws 30,203 acres of the BSF from surface entry and mining for period of 20 years, but does not impact the federal mineral leases


H.R. 1603 introduced on April 1, 1993 by Rep. Bruce Vento (D-MN) to authorize appropriations for BLM for fiscal years 1994-97 and require Sec. of Interior to conduct a study to determine the nature and extent of the salt loss from the salt flat crust occurring at BSF, Utah


Racing community, mine owner Reilly, the BLM and the state of Utah negotiate a voluntary agreement to restore the BSF whereby Reilly will pump salt brine back onto the BSF during the winter months for five years beginning in 1997


Reilly begins pumping salt brine onto the BSF under voluntary salt laydown project. Independent testing of salt brine and surface samples reveal consistency is excellent for supporting racing vehicles.


U.S. Geological Survey entitled “Investigation of Salt Loss from the Bonneville Salt Flats, Northwestern Utah” explains, “maximum salt-crust thickness was 7 feet in 1960 and 5.5 feet in 1988.”  Study concludes, “with an estimated net loss of salt from the shallow-brine aquifer, the dissolved-solids concentration must be maintained by dissolution of the salt crust.”


Voluntary pumping agreement expires but Reilly chooses to continue pumping operation


BLM Professional Geologist W.W. White III evaluates success of the voluntary pumping program: “The 2-inch increase to salt-crust thickness expected as a result of the project was not observed in measurements from recent test pits and auger holes excavated in BSF….excepting contribution to the new salt-crust area, most of the 6.2 million tons of salt transported to BSF was apparently incorporated into the underlying shallow-brine aquifer.”

White also notes: “The capability of the shallow-brine aquifer to accept additional NaCl is significant, because it is the shallow-brine aquifer that regulates the distribution of NaCl mass to the BSF salt crust. If the Laydown NaCl mass is assimilated by the shallow-brine aquifer, then: 1) one would anticipate an increase of NaCl concentration in the affected area of the shallow-brine aquifer, and 2) it would not be unreasonable to expect that more halite mass would be added to the existing salt crust as a result of this increased NaCl concentration.”


Intrepid Potash, Inc. acquires potash mining operation from Reilly; BLM and the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining request Intrepid submit a new mining plan


Intrepid submits draft mining plan; BLM denies racing community the opportunity to participate in reviewing/commenting on the mining plan.


Intrepid and BLM prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the mining plan; racing community provides extensive comments on the plan including the fact that under preservation law, the BSF Historic Registry listing triggered obligations by the BLM to consult the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), provide an opportunity for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to comment, and provide the racing community with “interested party” status 


BLM approves mining plan and final EA contingent on Intrepid continuing the salt laydown project and returning an amount of salt in brine form equal to the amount of salt they remove from the BSF; the BLM explains that it has not informed the SHPO of degradation at the BSF “because it has never been determined that the conditions of the BSF are attributed to the mining operations, the BLM did not believe it needed to inform the SHPO of anything”; strangely, the BLM also opined in the final EA that “removing mineral from the shallow brine aquifer north of I-80 may be causing the salt layer to thin and retract.  Intrepid’s voluntary continuation of the salt laydown project may not be sufficient to prevent diminishment of the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) from drawing off the brine from adjacent areas.  Such diminishment would degrade the unique geology and historical relevance of the site and would disrupt the recreational opportunities that have been part of the BSF for over 80 years.”

BLM denies Save the Salt’s request for “interested party” status and encourages “the Coalition to seek salt laydown results directly from the [mining] Company.”


Public Land Order 6941 extended and set to expire on August 5, 2032


Racers continue to see degradation at the salt flats and worsening conditions on and around the race courses; the racing community, acting through their nonprofit “Save the Salt,” request BLM allow a dry salt laydown test to determine whether dry salt laydown is viable; numerous exchanges between Save the Salt representatives and the BLM take place in which BLM requests further details


After months of exchanges, BLM indicates that the test may interfere with their own ongoing studies and requests Save the Salt prepare an abbreviated EA

Save the Salt works with Bingham Engineering to help prepare the abbreviated EA; based on the engineering report, Save the Salt determines it will not be able to afford the EA process and dry salt laydown plan.


An estimated 2,000 tons of salt were successfully deposited on the mud surface at the end of the access road to the BSF racing area; the surface had originally been covered by salt but has been reduced to mud due to continued salt loss over the years.


Save the Salt internally develops alternatives for improving the conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but is reticent about submitting ideas to the BLM based on previous difficulties in getting the agency to engage on the issue

Save the Salt reaches out to members of Congress in effort to keep BLM engaged on the issue and hopefully direct the agency to undertake additional mitigation efforts

Below is an open letter to the BLM that took about 10 minutes to write after  years researching the historical aspects of the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is well known that I have an affinity for land speed racing, yet my American citizen self is simply fed up with the pretty talk and well-crafted run around that has been given the motorsports community.

What set me off was the last-minute “chicken-out” by Kevin Oliver, BLM District Manager who was to be part of a frank, public discussion about the plight of the salt flats hosted by the Salt Lake City Tribune. It followed an article by reporter Emma Penrod. The land speed racing community has tried for years to engage the BLM in meaningful discussion to preserve the salt flats, always met with another study, delay, or privacy excuse.

SPEEDWEK 2010 098

Because the leadership has frequently changed, the matter has been regurgitated at least 5 times since I became involved at the close of the last century. In the meantime, the Bonneville Salt Flats continues to wither away unchecked and unloved by the very people who are charged with its protection. In my opinion, it is like a parent allowing a child to be repeatedly molested — for money no less.


I am fully cognizant of the horrific metaphor posited above so I invite you you examine the satellite images below below before you label me a special interest nut case.

I thank Ms. Penrod for her attention to this situation. However, this situation needs the full-court press of the SLC Tribune editorial board to crack open the government doors of shame and shed factual light on the salt’s grievous plight.  And if the Deseret News would join in recalling the 40 years of unselfish contributions by Ab Jenkins who gave the LDS folks the coolest racecar mascot ever, the Mormon Meteor, then there might yet be hope for amateur, family racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats. One or two tidy little reports are of no consequence at this juncture. no matter how well-meaning.

The salt is in serious trouble. For 15 years I have researched the science, the mining, the history, the mania and mundane trying to figure out a way to make the BLM do its job. The racing community wants nothing special, no favors, no extra work, just see the BLM be the stewards Americans expect them to be. Just like they have been to the Grand Canyon, the exalted California redwoods, the glorious Steese National Conservation Area and the sweltering Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Everglades.

I look at those satellite pictures and fight the urge to tear up.

The Letter

Kevin Oliver
District Manager
BLM Utah State Office
West Desert District
2370 S. Decker Lake Blvd.
West Valley City UT 84119
(801) 977-4310 or (801) 977-4300

Mr. Oliver,

You were conspicuous by your absence in the Salt Lake Tribune’s  podcast discussion about the plight of The Bonneville Salt Flats today. Many, many racers have grumbled that the BLM refuses to engage in meaningful dialogue with its recreation users, as evidenced by being especially cagey during the last round of mining permit negotiations. Your last-minute refusal to participate today seems to justify their perspective.

Is there a reason why you will not engage in serious public discussion about this issue?

As the BLM is charged with the duty to be stewards of our public lands, I find it puzzling how the Bonneville Salt Flats have been allowed to be systematically and geologically raped for decades. Is the revenue stream so important that it trumps the health of our federal land? That Bonneville is also on the Register of Historic Places makes the BLM’s failing so much more egregious.

I say this with all due diligence done for many years seeking  to understand the ecological and hydrological aspects that impact the health of the salt flats.

The abundance of rain has washed away the fragile buffer the recreational racing users had been clinging to for more years than they should have. I see this as “situation critical” and wonder why the BLM does not exercise its chartered role as leaders to take immediate steps to halt the degradation and implement a remedial plan without further delay.

Too much talking, too little acting.  It is a situation like this that leads me to believe the Civil Service has far too many protection points for employees.

LandSpeed Louise

The Back Story

For decades the mining companies have, with BLM permission, under permit, systematically and geologically raped the Bonneville Salt Flats. Industry is not to blame, they do what they are told in the language of their permits. It is the BLM that has failed the American public on so many counts by not requiring the mining concerns to replace what they remove.

Yes, yes, there is the nice little section that says they must put things back the way they found it BUT the mining firms can wait until they are done mining. If that continues, not only will all the amateur land speed racers comprised of hundreds of families get screwed, but the once magnificent sparkling halite playa will be lost to our memories. People, the flats were used by the astronauts as a navigational aid, this is a BIG deal.

Ironically, the miners don’t want the salt as it is a mere waste product once the valuable potash used for fertilizer is extracted.

The problem for all Bonneville Salt Flats recreational users, the racing community, is that the salt is mined OFF the speedway (South) side of Interstate 80 and the salty waste product is scattered on the opposite (North) side of Interstate 80. This have been going on for decades. . .

There is no concerted, coalescing effort to stave off the inevitable in my opinion. The Save the Salt Coalition, born out of the racers Save the Salt group, has talked much, done very, very little substantive, effective work. As for Dr. Bowen’s research at the University of Utah, I’d like to know who funds her research. Is it any of the mining concerns?

The State of Utah, its citizens – racers or not — need to understand the Bonneville Salt Flats need attention and need it NOW.

Much as it might grate upon the hard line environmentalist, land speed racers have been the unflinching stewards of the salt for more than 60 years. Keeping it pure and unmolested has been their goal as evidenced by their conduct.

This family-based sport continues to welcome not only Americans with a “can do” attitude, but encourages innovations in science, technology, engineering and transportation safety. Land speed racing can be described as “the last vestige of the Wild West” where today all the ponies are under the hood.

College kids have come to Bonneville with their school project and shown us that used french fry oil can safely power a truck and that 300MPH is possible with batteries. Grandmothers and grand dads have eschewed rocking chairs for race cars driving safely, repeatedly and gloriously in excess of 250MPH. Families thrive here. This place is fun and it is sorrowful that business pummels the flats to death simply because the BLM stewards have been outrageously lackadaisical in their duties for decades. The BLM actions suckle upon the teat of revenue and ignore the cries of the recreation user of what amounts to geological rape.

The “fault” lies surely at the doorstep of the BLM and I do not mean the Salt Lake City district office. The problem is with the Washington DC crowd who simply see the place as a tidy little revenue stream through leases. The lessees negotiate in good faith and sign a contract which requires them to vigorously comply with the terms of the contract or lose their rights. I do not heap any blame upon them.

This is not secret stuff, hidden from view. Most all involved with this sport know these things. Knowing this, how the hell did the recently negotiated mining permits NOT call for a replenishment of the salt? It is utterly contemptible, not to mention a clear dereliction of duty (in my opinion, shared by many) to protect our federal lands.

How long do you think lessees would be allowed to dump toxins in the Grand Canyon, or park radiological waste at the foot of Mount Rushmore?

The Bonneville Salt Flats are a natural wonder unique on the North American Continent, that despite its designation on the Register of National Historic Places, is protected with the vigor of a drunken slug by our federal stewards.


And shall we also have a chat with the BLM about why they never required the failed brine shrimp companies to remove the various dykes they allowed to be installed that now egregiously impede the natural winter littoral movement? I had several long talks with the US Geological folks and those dykes are an certainly an impediment.

You don’t need a science degree to see the damage, but we need someone in government to show the Bonneville Salt Flats a little love and caring tenderness right now.

– LandSpeed Louise Ann Noeth

Click on the image below to see the dramatic salt loss in seven years. Natural ecological forces combined with relentless mining for decades is wiping out in a century what took thousands of years to create.

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6 Jul, 2015  |  Written by  |  under Hot Rods, Journalism, Motorsports

Recently, I spent a very entertaining 30 minutes with Mark Greene who drempt up a creative way to talk with folks who give energy to the automotive profession on every conceivable level and facet. His approach is fresh, the conversation lively so this was an easy, free-wheeling interview that I hope it will be as enjoyable for you while listening.  Mark asked for a variety of photos and chose the one of me driving an delicious Allard taken many years ago whilst zooming around a gymkhana on an active airport.






If you are inclined, have a listen. We had a great time doing this show.

The guy is busy, I’m his 285th interview!!!

My session times out after 33 minutes, like a “Goldilocks” approach, it was “just right.”

Available now by clicking on any of the links below!

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