Permit requests rise sharply as Salt Flats popularity booms

The Eco Fire car ends a run on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover on Sept. 28, 2006. The Bureau of Land Management West Desert District is getting an exponential increase in permit requests for the Bonneville Salt Flats. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

WEST VALLEY CITY — The Bureau of Land Management West Desert District is getting an exponential increase in permit requests, especially at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Because of that rise, some racers are finding they could have to wait up to six months get get a permit.

Speed Week typically happens every year, but finding the perfect time to break a record out here can be elusive.

"You want to take advantage of that as much as you can for that year," Dennis Sullivan told KSL-TV.

Sullivan, president of the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association, said right now, the salt is the best it's been in over a decade thanks to our hot, dry summer.

But he said some racers who would like to take advantage of those conditions can't get out there.

"It has not been an issue before," Sullivan said of the difficulty getting permits.

The Bureau of Land Management said right now the flats are extremely popular, and permit requests are pouring in for all kinds of events.

"We just have increased visitation at Bonneville Salt Flats as a whole." Hannah Lenowski, BLM spokesperson, said. "This year it's become a very iconic location that's becoming known not only locally, but internationally."

Lenkowski said people are being asked to apply six months in advance.

She said it's a policy they've always had, but Sullivan said he hasn't seen it enforced before — not in the more than 30 years that he's been racing.

"To be told now we can't race later in the year, because there's too many people out there seems like that's taken away from what the Bonneville Salt Flats was started being used for," Sullivan said

Sullivan is not surprised at the increased popularity. He said he's seen the number of people at the flats double or even triple in the past year.

He'd just like to see a better, faster solution.

"You never know from year to year whether you're going to be able to race on it, or what kind of conditions the salt's going to be," he said.

Sullivan said if this apparent backlog continues he's worried some people might try and go out there without a permit, which can be dangerous.

Lenkowski said your best bet for now is to get those applications in early and be patient.

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Mike Anderson

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