An ancient rock toppled by a group of rowdy Boy Scout leaders has brought a harsh backlash and could even lead to felony charges.
The incident took place during a hike in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. The Scout leaders were exploring a formation of Jurassic Period rocks that resemble mushrooms with their scouts when they apparently decided to destroy one of the rocks.
In a video of the incident, the men are seen encouraging a friend who is pushing against one of the giant stones, which are between 145 and 170 million years old. When he pushed hard enough the ancient rock toppled from its formation and crashed to the ground.
After seeing the incident on YouTube, Utah State Park officials vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
“It is not only wrong, but there will be consequences,” Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg told The Salt Lake Tribune. “This is highly, highly inappropriate. This is not what you do at state parks. It’s disturbing and upsetting.”
The men, who were identified as Boy Scout leaders, said they were actually trying to make the pathway safer for some of the boys on the trip with them.
“Some little kid was about ready to walk down here and die and Glenn saved his life by getting the boulder out of the way,” said the cameraman, Dave Hall. “So it’s all about saving lives here at Goblin Valley.”
But the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation disagrees. The division’s director, Fred Hayes, told NPR that the rock formation did not pose a threat to the hikers.
Glenn Taylor, who admitted to toppling the ancient rock, later told The Deseret News that he regretted the incident.
“In hindsight, the smart thing for us would have been for us to say, ‘Dave, stay here. I’ll run and get a ranger,’ ” Taylor said. “I mean, this rock was sitting in a 3-by-1/2-inch ledge.”
But Taylor added that his conscience is clear about the incident.
At the very least, the men are guilty of disobeying the Boy Scout principle of “Leave No Trace.”
‘The isolated actions of these individuals are absolutely counter to our beliefs and what we teach,” said Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith. “We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action.”
The men who toppled the ancient rock could also be facing felony charges depending on how the rock formation is valued.