Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lawmakers pass on goblin toppling bill

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Feb. 26 11:30 p.m. MST

 The so-called \

The so-called "goblin toppling" bill was heard Wednesday by a panel of lawmakers who narrowly voted to hold the bill. Despite some who wanted more discussion on HB68, other lawmakers said the bill was too broad and could have far-reaching effects.

(Utah State Parks)

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers say they love their goblins, but they rejected a bill to protect the geologic features because they said it was too broad and probably not needed.

Members of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee narrowly voted 8-6 to hold HB68, sponsored by Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden.

"I don't see where this hits the target," said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan. "It seems to cast a pretty wide net."

The measure was brought in response to the October incident involving a pair of Boy Scout leaders who videotaped themselves toppling a goblin, or hoodoo, at Goblin Valley State Park. Their video posted on YouTube went viral, setting off a firestorm of public outrage over the vandalism to the natural resources.

The men insist they pushed the rock for fear it would fall and hurt passersby, but they have since been charged with felony criminal mischief and have a pending court appearance.

The hoodoos, tall columns that have made places like Bryce Canyon National Park notable, are unique geologic features — sandstone protrusions carved from the force of nature over millions of years.

Pitcher said he brought the bill in response to ambiguities in the criminal mischief law that have made it difficult to fit destruction of a natural resource under the umbrella of that statute.

Fred Hayes, director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, said the bill was needed to protect specific features at parks.

"What we are primarily concerned about are those features that constituted the designation of the park itself," he said. "The goblins in the Goblin Valley, for example, are the type of features that brought about this legislation."

But lawmakers worried that the provisions in the bill would be too far-reaching and encompass too many features at a park.

"As I see we are trying to figure out a process to deal with penalties for priceless objects," Ivory said, but added that the "loose" descriptions in the bill embrace any feature valued at $101 or more.

But several lawmakers, including Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, said he wanted to move the bill forward for additional discussion because of the importance of protecting those geologic features.

Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, however, said he was not convinced the bill is necessary.

"The situation we are dealing with has already been resolved by the county attorney in that county and I am not sure we are adding that much," he said.

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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1. one old man
Ogden, UT,
Feb. 27, 2014

Well of course they'd oppose something like this. Anything resembling an attempt to protect something "environmental" is a direct violation of the environmental motto of the Utah GOP.

"Multiply, multiply and pillage the earth."

Goodness, what if an oil company knocked a hoodoo over? Certainly couldn't hold them responsible!

2. Carol P. Warnick
Ephraim, Utah,
Feb. 27, 2014

Do we have a law that protects them against earthquakes? There are already laws in place. Everyone should know by now that you don't even take rocks out of a national park. Teach it in Scouts. Live it. If needs by put up a sign that tells of the penalty and fine at each park. There will always be those who don't respect and obey the law and for heavens sake stop making this a Republican or Democrate thing as some want to do. We are all Americans and should show repect to our land. It's that simple.

3. JoeCapitalist2
Orem, UT,
Feb. 27, 2014

The reality is that these goblins or hoodoos fall over by themselves all the time. They are created by erosion and when the dirt holding them up erodes enough, they fall over. Now there should be penalties for anyone who takes a crowbar to topple something that might stand up on its own for another 20 years, but the last thing we need is a law that will throw someone in jail because they happened to lean against a rock that was ready to fall over any minute.

4. GZE
SALT LAKE CITY, UT,
Feb. 27, 2014

From the article: they rejected a bill to protect the geologic features because they said it was ... probably not needed.

When has that ever stopped them before?

5. FT
salt lake city, UT,
Feb. 27, 2014

No suprise Mike Noel is against this bill. Let us not forget this is the man who intentionally, and unlawfully, in full view of federal agents, took a band of ATV riders up a protected canyon in protest. He represents a lot of our locally, elected officals that consider our wildlands as their personal playgrounds. What ever happened to holding people responsible for their actions?