In federal and even state budgets, $1 million isn’t really that much — maybe enough to pave a couple miles of road — but when a state needs to cut as much as $2 billion from its budget, every dollar becomes imperiled, which is why representatives from the Save the Salt Coalition have started to urge Utah lawmakers to keep in the state’s budget the $1 million they previously set aside for a program designed to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats with more than 1 million tons of reclaimed salt per year.
“We’re optimistic (the funds) will stay there,” said Stu Gosswein, the senior director of federal government affairs for the Specialty Equipment Market Association. “We just wanted to take the opportunity to reinforce that we have this Restore Bonneville program.”
The program, estimated to cost $50 million over 10 years, will essentially pick up where a previous five-year pilot salt replenishment program left off when it ended in 2002. According to a fact sheet about the Restore Bonneville program that Gosswein shared, the pilot program transferred an average of 1.2 million tons of salt to the racing surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats per year via a brine solution, leading to a thicker salt crust and “improved” brine aquifer beneath the crust.
Intrepid Potash, the nearby mining company with a Bureau of Land Management lease to mine the salt flats, continued that pilot program voluntarily from 2005 to 2012, returning about 380,000 tons of salt per year. The BLM then mandated Intrepid to continue replenishment in 2012, after which the company started to return almost 600,000 tons of salt per year