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Preservationists: Gas drilling threatens carvings (Utah's Nine Mile Canyon)
AP on Yahoo ^ | 5/28/08 | Mike Stark - ap

Posted on 05/28/2008 12:24:22 PM PDT by NormsRevenge

WELLINGTON, Utah - Along Utah's Nine Mile Canyon lies what some call the longest art gallery in the world — thousands of prehistoric rock carvings and paintings of bighorn sheep and other wildlife, hunters wielding spears, and warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat.

But now, a dramatic increase in natural gas drilling is proposed on the plateau above the canyon, and preservationists fear trucks will kick up dust that will cover over the images. And they worry that one possible solution — a chemical dust suppressant — could make things worse by corroding the rock.

"They're irreplaceable," said Steve Tanner, a member of the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, which wants more done to funnel industrial traffic away from the canyon to protect the art on the sandstone walls. "When they're gone, they're gone."

The more than 10,000 petroglyphs have been a source of fascination and speculation since their discovery in the late 1800s. The art is believed to be the work of the Fremont people, who lived in present-day Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Nevada from 700 to 1300 A.D., and the ancestors of modern-day Ute Indians.

(The canyon — a mix of private and public land — is actually 78 miles long; it might have gotten its name because a cartographer for the 19th-century explorer John Wesley Powell used a nine-mile section in mapping the passage.)

The federal Bureau of Land Management has pronounced it "the greatest concentration of rock art sites" in the country.

But the scrubby, rugged landscape around the canyon is also rich in minerals. Oil and gas development along the West Tavaputs Plateau has been going on since the 1950s, though for most of that time consisted of no more than several dozen wells.

Then, in 2002, Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp. paid about $8 million for more than 47,000 acres of oil and gas leases in and around the plateau. The area now has 100 to 110 active natural gas wells by the BLM's estimate, and the agency is proposing to allow roughly 700 to 800 more to be drilled over eight years.

Traffic along the narrow gravel road through the canyon would increase from about 107 vehicles per day now to a maximum of 441 per day during peak development, which would probably last two to three years, according to BLM estimates.

As for the effect on the artwork, some warn it would be akin to driving a truck through the Louvre. Others expect the drilling to be fairly benign.

"I don't think we really know what the damage might be being caused right now," said Kevin Jones, Utah's state archaeologist. "I think the resource is valuable enough that we ought to find out."

In 2006, the Bill Barrett Corp. agreed to pay for a study of the possible effects of the dust. Constance Silver of Preservar Inc., which conducted the study, said she found that kicked-up dust that lands on a rock art panel creates "a very serious conservation problem."

At one of the canyon's most famous spots, a scene depicting a great hunt, dust clouds from passing trucks travel more than 100 feet and linger in the air for at least 10 minutes before settling on the rock carvings, she found.

Another issue raising concern: the use of magnesium chloride on the road to harden the dirt and keep dust down. The salt compound is already being applied in an agreement between the county and the company.

Magnesium chloride has damaged concrete buildings and works of art before, according to Silver's report, and its use around Nine Mile Canyon ought to be "carefully considered." The fear is that it will collect in the pores of the rock and eat away its surface.

This summer, two other kinds of dust suppressants will be tried on the road.

"While there's no definitive information on the effect of magnesium chloride on the art itself, we have enough information we're concerned to the point where we're looking for alternatives," said Brad Higdon, a BLM environmental coordinator.

Company spokesman Jim Felton defended the project, saying if drilling does not go forward, the implications will be "immediate, dire and drastic" given the demand for energy in the U.S. The project would also create nearly 1,000 jobs in the area, according to the BLM.

Bill Barrett Corp. said it has put about $2 million into improving roads in the area, including rounding out curves to make them safer and building a route that moves traffic away from one of the most famous panels. By the time the project is complete, the rock art won't be any worse off and visitors will have a better experience, Felton said.

"There are those out there trying to create a false paradox, that you must either protect the artifacts or allow for oil and gas development," Felton said. "They're not mutually exclusive deals."

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is among those who have come out against the drilling project. He said Nine Mile Canyon is of "global importance" as a "historic document that we don't yet know how to read."

"The threat is real and imminent and frightening," Moe said in a statement. "If you compare photographs taken last year with photos taken in 2003, you can see what the dust is doing to the images."

Already, it seems, the character of the canyon is changing. The site has long been a popular stop for rock art enthusiasts from around the world.

In the past two years or so, visitors' inquiries about the canyon have dropped off as gas drilling and truck traffic picked up, according to Chanel Atwood at the Castle Country Regional Information Center in Price.

Some worry about the health effects of the dust, and others are concerned for their safety as they try to share the curvy road with pickups and big rigs, Atwood said.

"I had some people say it's their last visit, they're not going back," Atwood said. "It's just too dusty and too busy and they were looking for a more serene place to see rock art."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections; US: Utah
KEYWORDS: canyon; carvings; drilling; energy; environment; ninemile; oil; preservationists; threatens; utah

1 posted on 05/28/2008 12:24:23 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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Tanker trucks pass petroglyphs Wednesday, April 30, 2008, in Nine Mile Canyon northeast of Wellington, Utah. It is still unclear exactly how the increased dust and continued use of a dust suppressant in the canyon will affect the rock art. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)


2 posted on 05/28/2008 12:24:59 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE toll-free tip hotline 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRget!!!)
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.

Halliburton natural gas exploration vehicles sit stationed by the road where petroglyphs adorn the rock walls Wednesday, April 30, 2008, in Nine Mile Canyon northeast of Wellington, Utah. Over the last 4 years, about 70 wells have been evaluated and approved with another 60 or so allowed without a full environmental review. The Bureau of Land Management's newest proposal would allow up to 807 new wells to be drilled over 8 years. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

3 posted on 05/28/2008 12:26:33 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE toll-free tip hotline 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRget!!!)
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To: NormsRevenge

Hey, whatever it takes to stop any efforts to use the energy we have in our own back yard.


4 posted on 05/28/2008 12:26:46 PM PDT by driftdiver
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To: NormsRevenge

I guess in the thousands of years these drawing have been in the canyon ... there never once has been a dust storm ...


5 posted on 05/28/2008 12:27:38 PM PDT by clamper1797 (GWB was shock and awe ... Nobama is shuck and jive)
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To: NormsRevenge

A few hundred thousand years more of weathering and they’ll be gone any way. DRILL!!!


6 posted on 05/28/2008 12:27:42 PM PDT by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., how many girls did you drown today?" TERM LIMITS, NOW!)
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To: NormsRevenge

“I had some people say it’s their last visit, they’re not going back,” Atwood said. “It’s just too dusty and too busy and they were looking for a more serene place to see rock art.”

Yeah, better some widows freeze to death in Maine than deprive rock enthusiasts of their “serenity”.


7 posted on 05/28/2008 12:27:51 PM PDT by caseinpoint (Don't get thickly involved in thin things)
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To: NormsRevenge
Scotchguard mother@^@#$@#! Scotchguard!

I'm not insensitive to the historic meaning of these carvings, but there's got to be a way to work around this.

8 posted on 05/28/2008 12:29:18 PM PDT by domenad (In all things, in all ways, at all times, let honor guide me.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Oil the roads..little to no dust..or pave it!


9 posted on 05/28/2008 12:29:47 PM PDT by conservativehusker (GO BIG RED!!!!)
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To: NormsRevenge

The petroglyphs could be protected if necessary. Probably the protection would be even better than what they have now just hanging out in the weather.


10 posted on 05/28/2008 12:30:14 PM PDT by RightWhale (You are reading this now)
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To: NormsRevenge
Let Them Walk -- Ride Mules!!!
11 posted on 05/28/2008 12:36:06 PM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: clamper1797
I guess in the thousands of years these drawing have been in the canyon ... there never once has been a dust storm ...

And a rain storm at some time after the dust storm to wash it all down!

12 posted on 05/28/2008 12:36:26 PM PDT by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: NormsRevenge
I imagine the SandBlasting those canyon walls took over the hundred of years is nothing compared to a little dust kicked up by nasty ole Halliburton.
13 posted on 05/28/2008 12:38:43 PM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: TexasCajun

lol.. agreed. I like how they managed to squeeze a shot or two of Halliburton in tho. ;-)


14 posted on 05/28/2008 12:40:55 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE toll-free tip hotline 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRget!!!)
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To: caseinpoint
“I had some people say it’s their last visit, they’re not going back,” Atwood said. “It’s just too dusty and too busy and they were looking for a more serene place to see rock art.”

Of course, they have practically the whole rest of the state, which has been placed off-limits to anyone with a car, but hey....those city dwellers want their solitude...

15 posted on 05/28/2008 12:41:21 PM PDT by Red Boots
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To: Red Boots

Exactly. Let them go hang around at Escalante if they want solitude: just them and the clean coal Clinton sequestered to help his Indonesians buddies.


16 posted on 05/28/2008 12:43:55 PM PDT by caseinpoint (Don't get thickly involved in thin things)
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To: NormsRevenge

Give some of these “concerned hippies” some polyurethane and some paint rollers and let them have at it. I just hope the odor coming off the hippies isn’t more corrosive than the dust.


17 posted on 05/28/2008 12:44:39 PM PDT by WildcatClan (Don't blame me...............I supported Duncan Hunter.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Simple solution - cut them off the cliff wall, house them in a museum.


18 posted on 05/28/2008 12:47:12 PM PDT by arderkrag (Libertarian Nutcase (Political Compass Coordinates: 9.00, -2.62 - www.politicalcompass.org))
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To: NormsRevenge

As I recall from science courses, way back when, the natural forces at play in the world will weather rock faces, lay barren fields in which wildflowers now flourish, and fell mighty mountains with but the force of dripping water.

SO...can’t a creative, tree huggin’ engineer type come up with a curtain or other cover material that preserves these images?

If not, I’d suggest a lot of videos... We need to develop our domestic energy resources to free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil, and stop the illogical process of paying own enemies, enabling them to continue their war on freedom and self determination.

And, BTW...I never like snail darters, anyway...


19 posted on 05/28/2008 12:48:35 PM PDT by PubliusMM (RKBA; a matter of fact, not opinion)
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To: clamper1797
"I guess in the thousands of years these drawing have been in the canyon ... there never once has been a dust storm ..."

Good point. There have probably been hundreds over the time frame.

20 posted on 05/28/2008 12:50:54 PM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: NormsRevenge

Take a damn picture and get on with it...


21 posted on 05/28/2008 12:54:07 PM PDT by Sacajaweau ("The Cracker" will be renamed "The Crapper")
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To: clamper1797

...or trucks or drilling


22 posted on 05/28/2008 12:56:23 PM PDT by stuartcr (Election year.....Who we gonna hate, in '08?)
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To: NormsRevenge
If Liberals really acted upon their believes instead of pointing to others, they would have all jump on the Hale-Bopp Comet and saved Mother Earth.
23 posted on 05/28/2008 12:57:35 PM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: caseinpoint
I always laugh at the people who go there to get "solitude", then complain because there are other people around - well, duh, you're in a campground, dude !At a national park !

If you want total and complete solitude, just start walking, away from the road, and you can have all you want.

Actually, I live close by, and really enjoy that part of the state which has fewer tourists than southern utah,and just a lot of empty, empty land. We have talked about retiring in Wellington.

24 posted on 05/28/2008 1:03:27 PM PDT by Red Boots
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To: TexasCajun

I don’t understand why some museum wouldn’t want to come in and just drill / break off big sheets of that “art”. Its a common way to remove rock and they could have those drawings in a place where the public would be able to go see them all nicely lighted and such for enjoyment, behind glass, for years and years to come, without fear of eroding.

Plus we could get on with the drilling as we need to do. Win / win that way. Preserve this “art” in a place readily accessible to hundreds of thousands, as well as get our butts off foreign resources by going ahead with the drilling. Escapes me why they did not do that, common sense seems to have left some of these people.

The cost to break out that rock area would be minimal at most and the special $10 charge they would jip you on at the museum to visit the ‘exhibit’ would more the cover the cost associated. They do things like that here in St. Louis at the history museum all the time. Seems common enough someone should have considered it.


25 posted on 05/28/2008 1:05:48 PM PDT by midmoschmo
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To: Red Boots

Good luck. I am not familiar with Wellington but I am a Utah native, now exiled in the Left Coast. I lived for a few years as a child next to the Primitive Area in central Idaho (compliments of the Kennedy family so they could take their two-week rafting trips to the River of No Return without the serfs around). I get tired of outsiders telling the natives how to live their lives.


26 posted on 05/28/2008 1:09:46 PM PDT by caseinpoint (Don't get thickly involved in thin things)
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To: caseinpoint
Good luck. I am not familiar with Wellington but I am a Utah native, now exiled in the Left Coast. I lived for a few years as a child next to the Primitive Area in central Idaho (compliments of the Kennedy family so they could take their two-week rafting trips to the River of No Return without the serfs around). I get tired of outsiders telling the natives how to live their lives.

Lucky you, to be a Utah native. I love Utah; the land, the people and just everything. Even though we could ski anywhere in Colorado, we usually go to Park City; it's cheaper, less glitzy, more family oriented.

I live in Grand Junction, and our daughter lives in Park City, so we drive through Wellington often on our way to visit her. The gas and oil people have been harassed out of Colorado, and I hope Utah is smart enough to keep them. The Roan Plateau, in Colorado, was up for drilling, and the environmentalists got it all off limits as a pristine resource, which it was, because it's not all that scenic, especially when you have the whole rest of Colorado which is. Nobody ever went there...but, hey... there's that stupid solitude thing again.

I love those Halliburton trucks, because they mean good jobs for our kids, and national security for ourselves.

27 posted on 05/28/2008 1:28:21 PM PDT by Red Boots
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To: midmoschmo
I don’t understand why some museum wouldn’t want to come in and just drill / break off big sheets of that “art”. Its a common way to remove rock and they could have those drawings in a place where the public would be able to go see them all nicely lighted and such for enjoyment, behind glass, for years and years to come, without fear of eroding.

Probably because very few people actually visit the site in any given year; it's really out of the way, and there are rock art sites all over the place in Utah. As for it being the Lourve of rock art site; that's just plain ridiculous ! There is already a national park just a few miles away, Horseshoe Canyon part of Canyonlands, where an entire similar canyon, has been set aside for it's really fabulous rock art panels. It's a neat place, well worth the visit, and 6 mile hike.

Nine Mile Canyon, while neat, is just not in the same league, which is why nobody ever cared about it; until now when it's the only thing around they can use to stop the local national gas drilling.

28 posted on 05/28/2008 1:37:40 PM PDT by Red Boots
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To: NormsRevenge
"When they're gone, they're gone."

Adios.

29 posted on 05/28/2008 1:55:42 PM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: glock rocks; Pete-R-Bilt

dust in the Utah hills Ping


30 posted on 05/28/2008 1:58:23 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE toll-free tip hotline 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRget!!!)
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To: NormsRevenge
We need the gas......BUT!

The trucks or the company running them should be required to use Earthzyme or a similar product that is TOTALLY environmentally safe and can cut the dust by over 90%. Earthzyme, Terazyme and a couple other products WORK..Go on Google and read about them.

31 posted on 05/28/2008 2:45:41 PM PDT by WellyP (How much does Huma know?)
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To: Red Boots
Actually, I live close by, and really enjoy that part of the state which has fewer tourists than southern utah,and just a lot of empty, empty land. We have talked about retiring in Wellington.

My father was a Duchesne County deputy sheriff. Nine-mile canyon was part of his beat. He only took me out there once.

32 posted on 05/28/2008 2:56:19 PM PDT by Vroomfondel
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To: NormsRevenge
"I had some people say it's their last visit, they're not going back," Atwood said. "It's just too dusty and too busy and they were looking for a more serene place to see rock art."
Good! Go screw up California's economy. Oh, wait... too late.
33 posted on 05/28/2008 3:00:06 PM PDT by glock rocks ( Woof.)
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To: Red Boots
"...it's really out of the way, and there are rock art sites all over the place in Utah..."

I stopped at a wide spot in a Utah highway to walk my dog. (He'd been staring at me, like he REALLY needed a walk—LOL).

We'd wandered no more than 75 feet, and found a 50-foot section of petroglyphs on a rockface just around a cliff!

34 posted on 05/28/2008 4:32:31 PM PDT by Does so (...against all enemies, DOMESTIC and foreign...)
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To: NormsRevenge

Given enough time and rationalizing, reasons can always be found for doing absolutely nothing.

It’s a classic environmentalist/liberal methodology.


35 posted on 05/28/2008 7:53:41 PM PDT by headstamp 2 (Been here before)
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To: NormsRevenge; glock rocks
thanks for the ping

probably the same group that screamed about all the Anasazi Indian ruins that would be trashed with the filling of Lake Powell

only now that there is 300 feet of water there, you can boat the canyons and see them at eye level, since the Anasazi were cliff dwellers and the petroglyph's were 300 feet above the canyon floor where they lived!

two words...

Dust Buster.

36 posted on 05/30/2008 11:38:56 AM PDT by Pete-R-Bilt ( if practice makes perfect, but nobody's perfect, why practice?)
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