Utah’s Prehistoric Rock Art Threatened

Just a few miles from the town of Price in central Utah lies Nine Mile Canyon, home to the greatest concentration of rock art in the United States, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Though there are few facilities, adventurous visitors can drive the 78-mile Nine Mile Canyon Back Country Byway to see the roughly 10,000 petroglyphs and pictographs carved by the Ute and Fremont Indians.

But the images, created at least one thousand years ago, have been endangered in the last several years by dust kicked up by industrial traffic related to the development of natural gas nearby. Recently, a proposal to add 800 more natural gas wells to the project would increase the traffic fourfold and was met with concern by the National Trust, the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, and other groups. The area has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, and the trust created this YouTube video to spread the word about the rock art’s plight:

While pursuing natural gas (the cleanest-burning fossil fuel) is a worthy cause, it shouldn’t come at the expense of a priceless collection of rock art. Canyon advocates hope that an alternate route can be agreed upon so that the integrity of this beautiful natural monument will be maintained.

Have you visited Nine Mile Canyon? What do you think?