There are few things that get me as riled up as vandalism in the backcountry…and I’m riled.
Unless you live under a rock, there is a good chance you’ve already read this story or seen the video. But, in case you haven’t, check it out:
In summary, here’s the story: three men leading a Boy Scout trip into Goblin Valley State Park in Utah made a very poor and very uneducated decision when they decided to topple a unique rock structure in the Valley, all in the name of “safety.” David Hall did the filming and can be heard hootin’ and hollerin’ while Glenn Taylor climbs up on the structure and forcefully shoves it to the ground.
There are dozens of reasons that this video literally almost made me cry, but let me focus on a few of them…before I throw up due to disgust.
What type of Boy Scout leaders are they?
According to reports, Taylor and Hall are Boy Scout leaders. Now, I know the Boy Scouts are different everywhere, but I’m pretty sure one of the sole purposes of the organization is to develop character in youth so that they evolve into conscientious and responsible members of society (And actually, I’m not “pretty sure”; that was taken directly from their website). Obviously, the Scouts can’t be blamed for these idiots’ actions and have since removed both Taylor and Hall from their organization. However, it is beyond terrifying to me that these type of individuals are responsible for instructing our kids on proper outdoor behavior. Are you effing kidding me?! Who failed this interview process??!
Their Mocking Attitude
Ok, so this could very likely be my interpretation of the video footage, but whatever. After watching the YouTube clip a half dozen times, I still can’t get over how mocking and belligerent their voices and behavior are! Sure, they are claiming that they tore down the rock for safety purposes and Hall even narrates the video with the statement, “Glenn just saved his (a little kid) life by getting the boulder down.” You know what? Bullshit. They didn’t knock the rock over to save someone’s life or to prevent future accidents; they did it because it looked like fun and they’re uneducated people who shouldn’t have been in the park to begin with.
To make it worse, I literally cringed when Hall puts his happy face in front of the camera and proudly proclaims that he and Taylor have “modified Goblin Valley.” Again, if these men are leading kids into the backcountry and other outdoor areas, they should know that rule #1 of the outdoors is that of Leave No Trace principals: leave everything the exact same way that it was before you arrived. Don’t modify; don’t fix; don’t better anything. Just leave it so that it looks identical to the way it was and hopefully, the way it has been for years upon years. I’ve been to Goblin Valley and seen these ancient statues and they’re incredible. These men just took a bit of that away for future generations.
Where is our outdoor education?
It’s interesting that I should read this story now because it semi-ties into something I thought about over the weekend. Will and I spent this past weekend backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo range with two friends (trip report coming tomorrow!) We camped in the snow at 12,000 feet and it was freaking cold! However, Will and I both knew that we couldn’t have a fire due to LNT principals. At that altitude, the fire would scar the ground for dozens of years, and the lack of oxygen (among other things) means that the trees won’t grow fast enough to replace the ones that individuals choose to burn. Yes, it sucks to be hanging out at your tent when it’s 10 degrees out and it would be really nice to have a fire, but it just isn’t responsible, you know?
The rest of our crew was semi-aware of LNT principals but didn’t really want to believe that they would still apply when it was that freaking cold outside. After all, what type of masochistic individual would choose to shiver all night!? However, once we explained the logic behind the decision, they accepted it (even though I know they really didn’t like it!) It made me realize that some people truly just need education on those types of issues, you know?
However, with this Goblin Valley incident, I’m completely torn. There is a large part of me (okay, the majority) that refuses to help these guys cop out due to lack of education on the topic. They were leaders for kids so they should have known better and if they didn’t they shouldn’t have chosen to take such drastic measures without clarifying stuff first. In fact, I think they should be prosecuted for vandalism, a decision that is currently being mulled over by police. What do you think?
What do you think? Do these guys deserve to be prosecuted for their behavior or am I being unfair?
What’s your take on the situation? Do you feel educated in outdoor topics? Would you ever consider doing something like what they did?