Recently, a group of three men filmed themselves destroying a rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah and actually posted the video on YouTube. Even more disturbing: the men are Boy Scout leaders. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the men claimed the boulder — which was actually a geological formation called a hoodoo — was about to fall and could have injured someone. However, the rock formation could have remained standing for decades or longer.
One of the men responsible claims he witnessed a family walk close to the rock, and that he felt compelled to check its stability. "I put my hand on a rock and it moved," he said. "While we were sitting right there we thought, 'Man if this rock falls it'll kill them.' I didn't have to push hard." He later expressed regret about his decision to take matters into his own hands, but still believes it was the right thing to do.
Hoodoo Formations in Goblin Valley (image via Wikipedia)
Goblin Valley State Park is famous for beautiful geological features that formed over millions of years, and there are many of these formations throughout the park. It's impossible to know for sure if the hoodoo in question was loose or not, but I have no doubt the men used incredibly poor judgment and disregarded a core precept of outdoor ethics and Scouting: Leave No Trace. Also, the fact that they acted triumphant as they pushed over the formation — even high-fiving each other gleefully — is evidence that they have little respect for the outdoor places so many of us consider sacred.
Public outcry over the men's actions has been fervent, and according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the men could face possible class-B misdemeanor charges or even a second-degree felony charge. More than likely, they will only receive a fine.
As an Eagle Scout, I'm incredibly embarrassed and disappointed that another group of Scouts would do such a thing. If this incident serves any purpose, I hope it reminds people not to take matters into their own hands. If you think a natural feature may be unstable or hazardous, contact a park ranger.
What do you think?
-Beren Goguen is a copywriter at Sierra Trading Post and occasional blog contributor. He's also a hiker, mountain biker and Eagle Scout.
Scout Leaders Destroy Goblin Valley Rock Formation
By Beren Goguen
October 18, 2013
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