Ancient Art at Risk in Utah

Nord Wennerstrom, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation has drawn my attention to a proposed oil and gas development in Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon which could affect the 10,000 petroglyphs and pictographs there:

May 1, 2008 is the deadline for contacting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about a proposal that could dramatically step up damage to the rock art in Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon, affectionately known as the “world’s longest art gallery” and home to more than 10,000 petroglyphs and pictographs made primarily from the Fremont and Ute Indian cultures. A massive proposed oil and gas development project (more than 800 wells!) would increase truck traffic inside the Canyon by 416% causing enormous amounts of dust, chemical dust suppressants and vehicle exhaust to accumulate on and permanently harm this international treasure.

A recently released study shows a direct link between truck traffic in the Canyon and the deterioration of the rock art panels, due to a build up of dust and harmful chemicals used to control dust on the road. The BLM, which manages much of the land in and around Nine Mile Canyon, needs to recognize the findings of this study and present plans for a new access road to the exploration site, rather than continuing to rely on the narrow dirt roads that run through Nine Mile Canyon.

We urge you to send an email to the Bureau of Land Management today at and copy the National Trust for Historic Preservation at

Let BLM know that it is imperative for them to protect the thousands of prehistoric petroglyphs and pictographs in Nine Mile Canyon. Tell BLM that it is unacceptable to allow these international treasures to be damaged by the dust and chemicals and exhaust generated by current and proposed truck traffic in Nine Mile Canyon. Ask BLM to perform a detailed evaluation of alternative routes that trucks could use to access the project area instead of the existing dirt roads in Nine Mile Canyon and its narrow side canyons. Encourage BLM to fulfill its role as the steward of the world’s longest art gallery and save our shared heritage for future generations.

If you think as I do that the BLM should seriously consider these alternative proposals, I encourage you to join me in writing a letter.

Questions or Comments? Email me at

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