You may remember that last fall, two Utah Boy Scout leaders thought a rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park--almost four hours south of the Wasatch Front--was on the verge of falling over and hurting someone. They decided to tip it out of the way. It turned out that their good turn wasn't so good after all. They destroyed a rock formation that had been there for over 20 million years in its current form, and had been formed out of rock that dates back over 165 million years. Well, yesterday the two men--who were deservedly drummed out of Scouting--had the bill come due for their actions. They were formally indicted yesterday on felony charges for destroying the formation.
The so-called goblin topplers — David Hall and Glenn Taylor — were charged with third-degree felonies Friday for pushing over a rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park in October.For those who missed it, watch a copy of the video courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Taylor, who is accused of physically pushing over the hoodoo, was charged Friday in Castle Dale’s 7th District Court with third-degree felony criminal mischief. Hall, accused of videotaping the incident, was charged with conspiracy criminal mischief, also a third-degree felony.
If convicted, the men could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
According to court records, the men are accused of causing more than $1,500 but less than $5,000 in damage when they pushed over the ancient rock formation Oct. 11 — an incident they posted a video of on the Internet.
State parks director Fred Hayes said that the damage bill is only an estimate, based on what the formation, or hoodoo, would have been worth had they tried to reconstruct it--though for obvious reasons it can't be replaced.
After this story broke, a lot of people across the state and nation wondered why Taylor and Hall weren't arrested on the spot, even though defacing state parks is illegal. One state lawmaker responded by drafting a bill that would not explicitly make this a crime, but also provide a method for calculating the monetary value of such damage.
There's a chance this may not even go to trial. The local prosecutor says plea negotiations are well underway. Based on statements from Taylor's lawyer, the main sticking point seems to be whether this is a felony.
4:29 PM PT: My personal thoughts, since this made the rec list--charging these two with a felony is justified. It may seem heavy-handed, but the more I thought about it, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to spray-painting the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. From what I've read, those formations occupy the same place in Utahans' cultural inheritance as the Lighthouse does for us in North Carolina.