The federal Bureau of Land Management has asked state government, racing interests and a local potash company to join in study of what can be done to stop the loss of salt at the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats.

BLM District Manager Deane Zeller said the 100-square-mile flats in northwestern Utah - a popular spot for efforts to set world land-speed records - are "shrinking" at the rate of 1 percent a year."Our recent sampling of salt pan thickness in 120 locations north of Interstate 80 indicates a 30 percent reduction of total salt volume during the past 28 years," Zeller said in a Monday news release.

"Given this long-term trend, it's apparent that the salt flats, as we know them today, are in trouble. Clearly, some hard questions need to be addressed," he added.

At risk is what Zeller described as a "one-of-a-kind geologic phenomenon." He said that while other salt flats exist in the Australian and African backcountry, none are "of the quality and accessibility of the