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Rock art west of Utah Lake being inadvertently damaged by target shooters

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – A grass roots effort has been underway west of Utah Lake to protect ancient rock art that is unknowingly being destroyed by target shooting. 

“People don’t know or haven’t been told the rock art is here.”


Target shooting west of Utah Lake has damaged signs warning people they are on federal lands

As target shooters have been forced south in recent years, due to closures related to safety concerns, many are now firing their guns where Fremont Indians are believed to have left their mark hundreds of years ago, according to Steve Acerson who leads the Utah Rock Art Research Association.

While it is perfectly legal for target shooters to be in many of these locations, using a rock as a target has proved to be damaging to history. 


“This rock art is not like the big panels down in southeastern Utah, where you have hundreds of images on one face. Out here on Lake Mountain and in Utah County, the rock art is just on a boulder, one rock, two or three images – and people don’t know or haven’t been told the rock art is here,” he said.


Rock art west of Utah Lake.

The last couple of weekends, Acerson and others have come out to the sensitive areas to keep target shooters away.


An environmental assessment was submitted and being reviewed by the BLM that could close the areas where rock art has been identified, but Acerson said the process is moving slowly.


“Every day that [it’s] not signed, the rock art is being lost and destroyed,” he said.


Signs informing people about the rock art and even notices from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office that the area is closed to target shooting, have not always worked.


Rock art west of Utah Lake.

“We all love knowing about our roots and we get involved in finding our ancestry and it seems like this would be just as important to a lot of people,” said Diana Acerson, who was also supporting the effort to preserve the rock art.


Progress was being made on the construction of a new Utah County shooting range, west of State Road 68, near mile marker 18, where people will be able to enjoy shooting their guns in a designated place in the near future.


Until then, Acerson hopes target shooters will become aware of what could be in their line of fire and is doing his best with other rock art enthusiasts, to save this history for the future.


“I think by educating people we will be able to curb this and have them preserved,” he said.



Steve Acerson with the Utah Rock Art Research Association points out rock art from native ancient inhabitants west of Utah Lake.

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