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24 July 2004
Court backs natural gas probe of Utah's Nine Mile Canyon

A federal judge gave the go-ahead Wednesday for a company to search for natural gas near Utah's Nine Mile Canyon, renowned for its ancient rock art, ruling that the work would not threaten the ancient etchings. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan dismissed the challenge by the Southern
Utah Wilderness Alliance to the exploration plans in redrock slot canyons adjacent to Nine Mile Canyon, saying it failed to prove that damage would be done by the gas work.
     Seismic exploration, using sound waves to penetrate the earth and search for gas deposits, is already under way in portions of the 57,000-acre project area. If the tests show a likelihood of gas in the area, then the company will file the necessary paperwork to develop the gas
reserves. Diane Orr, a Salt Lake City photographer who has climbed and hiked Nine Mile Canyon photographing the rock art panels, said she already can see the difference in the area from the traffic that the exploration has spawned.
     In May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Nine Mile Canyon area one of its most endangered places in the country because of the proposed gas development. The Bureau of Land Management says Nine Mile Canyon has more than 10,000 American Indian images etched into the canyon walls, making it the richest collection of rock paintings in the nation.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune (22 July 2004)

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