|29 May 2004
American rock art under threat
One of the most significant Indian cultural sites in America has been placed on a list as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places."
Nine Mile Canyon in Utah is decorated with thousands of ancient Indian rock art images, which has led to it being called the world's longest art gallery.
"Today the canyon is threatened by growing tourism and vandalism, as well as by extensive oil and gas exploration plans recently approved by the federal Bureau of Land Management," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who publish the annual list of endangered sites.
"I understand why it is sometimes called the world's longest art gallery. It encompasses an incredible 10,000 petroglyphs and pictographs — some as old as 2,000 years — as well as numerous sites that reflect the period of pioneer exploration and development."
The Bureau of Land Management approved geophysical testing near the canyon which revealed a huge natural gas reserve in the area. Further explorations have also revealed an oil field. After initially taking legal action against the BLM, opponents of the devlopment have backed down after receiving concessions to protect the archaeology.
Utah's state archaeologist Kevin Jones said "It's a place of great and wondrous beauty and fabulous archaeological resources as well as rich petrochemical resources. And I think if people get involved, we can do both of those things; we can preserve the wondrous landscapes and the archaeological sites, as well as get the much-needed oil and gas out of the ground."
However, he has also sounded a warning note, asking for "a thorough inventory of the cultural resource sites at risk and adequate measures for protection."
Source: Utah News (25 May 2004)
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