21 October 2013

Pure geovandalism “justified” as rockfall prevention in Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

Posted by Dave Petley

The video below, which was taken in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah,  appears to have been posted on the Facebook site of these three individuals, who are called Dave Hall, Glenn Taylor and Dylan Taylor.  These rock formations, which are known as hoodoos, are unusual and of course irreplaceable:

After the Hoodoo was destroyed by Glenn Taylor (as shown in the image below), the person filming this crass act of geovandalism said:

“Some little kid was about ready to walk down here and die and Glenn saved his life by getting the boulder out of the way, so it’s all about saving lives here at Goblin Valley.”

Goblin Valley State Park


So the justification for this act, undertaken by three Scout leaders, seems to have been risk reduction from rockfall hazards.  So, does this justification hold water?  In a word, no.  The likelihood of this block toppling off its pedestal at the time that a small child was walking past is almost infinitesimally small.  Eventually the stone would have fallen naturally (though probably not for a very long time); the likelihood would be that this would occur as a result of a combination of strong winds and wet conditions, when the park would have been mostly empty.  Even if it had occurred spontaneously on a calm day, the probability of someone being in the very small area at risk would be low, and even then they would have stood a good chance of moving.

In other words, there is no justification for this act in terms of a meaningful reduction in rockfall hazard.  This was nothing less than an act of pure vandalism.  Fortunately, this has received considerable publicity (the Youtube video has received 4 million hits, and the comments left by viewers are mostly critical (e.g. “They aren’t Scout Leaders, they’re leaders in stupidity, vandalism, and who lack common sense”), plus it has been covered by the international media.  Fortunately, Utah State Parks Authority are planning to take action.