Boy Scout Leaders Destroy Ancient Rock Formation

Two Boy Scout leaders toppled a rock formation at Utah's Goblin Valley State Park that dates to the Jurassic period.

goblin-valley-rock-formations

Two Boy Scout leaders toppled a rock formation at Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park that dates to the Jurassic period.

Fox News (“Charges possible for Boy Scouts leaders who toppled Utah rock formation“):

A group of Boy Scouts leaders may face criminal charges after purposely knocking over an ancient Utah desert rock formation and posting a video of the incident online, authorities say

The men were leading a group of 14 to 16-year-old Boy Scouts on a trip to Goblin Valley State Park when they said they noticed the top of the rock formation was loose and feared it was dangerous.

“This is about saving lives,” Dave Hall, who shot the video, told The Associated Press on Friday. “One rock at a time.”

The rock formation is about 170 million years old, Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said. The park in central Utah is dotted with thousands of the eerie, mushroom shaped sandstone formations.

In a video posted on Facebook, Glenn Taylor of Highland, Utah, can be seen last Friday wedging himself between one formation and a boulder to knock a large rock off the formation’s top. Taylor and his two companions can then be seen cheering, high-fiving and dancing.

“This is not behavior that is appreciated or should exist in state parks,” Swalberg told the Deseret News. “This has been formed for literally millions of years, and it’s supposed to last for a long time. It doesn’t need individuals doing the work of Mother Nature.”

Hall, who is also a scoutmaster from Highland, said some of their Scouts were jumping on the structures and they noticed a large boulder on top of one structure was loose.

“My conscience won’t let me walk away knowing that kids could die,” Hall said.

While safety was their motivation, Hall said, it was exciting to knock it over, and that’s why they reacted with high-fives and cheers in the video.

“You can’t have a rock the size of a car that you can push with one hand, and have it roll, and not have an adrenaline rush,” Hall said. “It was a crazy, exciting moment.”

The Boy Scouts of America have issued a statement that they are ”shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior.” While I suppose their public safety explanation for why they did it is plausible, it’s unfathomable that trained scoutmasters would undertake this action on their own rather than reporting the situation to park rangers. They were, after all, taking the boys in their charge to see a natural wonder.

As to criminal charges, it’s not obvious what they would be.

Brent Langston with the Emery County Attorney’s Office said his agency is aware of the incident has not yet started evaluating whether they’ll file charges.

“The county attorney’s office has spoken with the state park representative but as of this date, no reports have been submitted and no charges have been filed. The county attorney’s office will review the case upon completion of the investigation and determine what action to take at that point,” the office said in a press release obtained by ETV 10 News Friday afternoon.

The men involved could face a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how much officials determine the formation was worth, Langston told the Tribune.

“Some things can’t be replaced, like photographs in a family album, but they have great sentimental value,” he said.

Hall said he and Taylor were both “immensely sorry for any damage that we may have caused,” or any embarrassment they brought to the Boy Scouts or anyone else.

But he also said, “One more rock falling to the ground is not going to destroy the beauty of the park. Eventually, the erosion brings all of them down.”

My guess is that they get a small fine, if that. Pushing over a rock might be “criminal” but it isn’t a crime.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    Whatever happened to “Leave No Trace?” Morons.

  2. Tyrell says:

    Why were they on top of rocks?

  3. Right, because these two paragraphs together really make a lot of sense together:

    The men were leading a group of 14 to 16-year-old Boy Scouts on a trip to Goblin Valley State Park when they said they noticed the top of the rock formation was loose and feared it was dangerous.

    […]

    In a video posted on Facebook, Glenn Taylor of Highland, Utah, can be seen last Friday wedging himself between one formation and a boulder to knock a large rock off the formation’s top. Taylor and his two companions can then be seen cheering, high-fiving and dancing.

    And it took someone, who looks to be over 300 lbs, with a concentrated effort, to knock it down.

    (The truth is, this is just an example of the media and blogs refusing to acknowledge that this is just another example of white thug culture.)

  4. Argon says:

    ‘Trained Scoutmaster’, James? Hahahaha! There’s not a lot of training that goes on in that regard.

    Besides, I’m pretty darn sure the park’s notice says, ‘don’t mess with the rocks’.

  5. rudderpedals says:

    Destruction or defacement of federal property is a crime?

  6. Just Me says:

    Sounds like this is a state park so Federal charges don’t apply.

    I am surprised that anyone would think this was okay and you would think reporting it to park rangers/staff would make more sense.

    I see no reason for felony charges-that seems like overkill.

  7. rudderpedals says:

    @Just Me: I saw the image and assumed national park even though right at the top of the article it says state park arrrrgh

  8. mattbernius says:

    While I suppose their public safety explanation for why they did it is plausible, it’s unfathomable that trained scoutmasters would undertake this action on their own rather than reporting the situation to park rangers.

    As an Eagle Scout (’92) I can firmly say that you have unrealistic beliefs about “trained scoutmasters.”

    I would suggest thinking back to your time in the Military and remembering all the boneheaded things that NCO’s and CO’s did. Trust me, its even worse in Scouting.

    There are lots of excellent leaders. There are other leaders who… well… less said, the better.

  9. James Pearce says:

    I don’t buy that they had a practical reason to do it. Judging from the video, they did it for fun.

    That said, I’m not sure why this story went so viral. In the pre-You Tube age, I doubt this would have become a national news story.

  10. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    Obesity and stupidity moved that rock. The first thing kids should learn is respect for Nature, and not destroying anything. After all they was in a National Park.

    But they are Americans, so it explains everything. IDIOTS !

  11. anjin-san says:

    Lack of respect for nature runs deep in a lot of Americans. Sad, but true.

  12. Punishment should be making them pay to restore it.

  13. Tyrell says:

    @Timothy Watson: I saw another picture of the rock before it was toppled off. What they evidently didn’t think about was that huge thing rolling back the wrong way. Also, this in a National Park? That should qualify for some kind of legal violation. This scout troop needs a change in leadership.

  14. mike shupp says:

    It seems simple enough. Toss them in jail over the weekend for destruction of property, take them back to the site on Monday morning, with a deputy to watch, and tell them to put the rock back in place. If they aren’t done by evening, take them back to jail for the night, and come back on Tuesday. And Wednesday, if need be. And Thursday. As long as it takes.

    Yeah, these guys wouldn’t be running around with their beer buddies for a while, or with teen aged kids. But remember, it’s all about saving lives!

  15. al-Ameda says:

    “This is about saving lives,” Dave Hall, who shot the video, told The Associated Press on Friday. “One rock at a time.”

    Wow, this moron is admitting that he is willing to deface or destroy that beautiful park one rock at a time.

    Sometimes there are moments of clarity that reveal the true nature of a person, and this is one of those moments. Dave Hall, congratulations for letting us all know now, that you should not be allowed within 100 miles of any National Park anywhere in this country (or in the world for that matter).

  16. KM says:

    You know what’s interesting? Not a week ago, we were debating whether or not open-air monuments and parks should be open despite the shutdown (I know this is a state park but still). I was reassured that no True American (TM) would do such a thing and that people had a natural respect for such grandeur. Adults are Adults and can be trusted to do the right thing and not wreck the place.

    Well.

    It seems we don’t really have many Adults left in America anymore. This is what all that hubbub was about – morons who aren’t aware enough to know they’re morons doing damage to priceless public treasures. That rock survived the dinosaurs, Mother Nature’s fury and all of human history – for a fatass Scout Master to take it out because he could (on video no less!).

    Sad yet revealing.

  17. rbaron321 says:

    @mattbernius: Eagle Scout here as well and i concur. Scouting really does emphasis good stewardship and there is quite a bit of great leadership. However it is a volunteer organization made up almost entirely of guys. You are going to get some real numbskulls.

  18. Mike says:

    The Boy Scout Leaders are to be teachers and lead by example, which they did not !!!! All they did is put a black eye on boy scout leaders. Those rock formations belong to everybody to appreciate, but thanks to you low life’s we can not. To the idiot that ruined the formation, I guess your disability law suit is null and void, AMEN, what goes around, comes around

  19. alkali says:

    Pushing over a rock might be “criminal” but it isn’t a crime.

    Why in the world not? This is malicious destruction of property. If someone came into my front yard and cut down a 200 year old tree with a chainsaw while gleefully videoing themselves, that would be a crime. This is not different.

    The fact that these guys seem to be unaware that they are doing anything wrong makes this a little tragic — they are likely to be charged with and convicted of a felony, and that will follow them the rest of their lives. But I don’t see anything profoundly unfair about that.

  20. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    For the life of me, I can’t understand why the scout leaders didn’t report the danger to the Park Rangers, especially in light of all the great work the latter have been doing recently in protecting our Republic from other less desirable citizens.