Group Says They Removed Utah Monolith To Preserve Public Lands

Dec 1, 2020, 8:14 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2020, 5:37 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Eleven days ago, a mysterious sighting in the desert took the world by storm. And now the group who removed it from the Utah desert in San Juan County has released a lengthy statement.

Sylvan Christensen released the statement that explained why the monolith was taken from the site.

“We removed the Utah Monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, freshwater sources, and human impacts upon them.  The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here— we are losing our public lands— things like this don’t help.”

It continued, “Let’s be clear:  The dismantling of the Utah Monolith is tragic — and if you think we’re proud — we’re not. We’re disappointed. Furthermore, we were too late.”

The statement continued with a list of damage to the landscape caused by the actual installation of the monolith as well as the resulting traffic that carried people who wanted to see it for themselves.

“This land wasn’t physically prepared for the population shift (especially during a pandemic).  People arrived by car, by bus, by van, helicopter, planes, trains, motorcycles, and E-bikes and there isn’t even a parking lot,” Christensen’s statement said.  “There aren’t bathrooms— and yes, pooping in the desert is a misdemeanor. There was a lot of that. There are no marked trails, no trash cans, and it’s not a user group area.”

The men who removed the monolith pointed out the desert damage caused by the traffic attracted to the area.  (Used by permission @rossbernards) An image of the men as they removed the monolith. (Used by permission @rossbernards)

“There was trash, there was human waste,” said professional photographer Ross Bernards, who was there when the monolith was removed. “There was an airplane parked out there. A plane while we were there!”

He took photos of the men while they dismantled the monolith and posted them on social media.

“There is so much beauty out there. Becoming a photographer has completely changed the way I see the world,” Bernards said, adding the group of four men talked to him while they disassembled the monolith. “They said, ‘This is why you don’t leave trash in the desert.’”

The men live in the area and reached out to Bernards Tuesday morning to ask if they could use his photos to tell their story. “I had asked them ‘From my point of view, you guys took it out because people were leaving trash everywhere and destroying the desert?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, that is exactly why we took it out.’”

It’s a story that has spread across the world as more than 70 news outlets contacted Bernards since his posts went viral on Monday.

A spotlight cast on a message Bernards hoped is spread just as fast as the news of the Monolith, protect our land and preserve its beauty. “Leave no trace behind,” he said.

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Group Says They Removed Utah Monolith To Preserve Public Lands