NewsCovering America

Actions

Well-known Utah slackliners take credit for dismantling infamous monolith

Well-known Utah slackliners take credit for dismantling infamous monolith
Posted at 5:56 AM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 15:08:34-05

Two well-known slackliners from Utah have taken credit for dismantling the infamous "monolith" that gained international fame after it was discovered last week.

Andy Lewis of Moab, Utah, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he was part of the group that knocked down the monolith last week. He also confirmed his involvement in text messages with the Salt Lake Tribune.

"On the night of November 27, 2020, at about 8:30pm — our team removed the Utah Monolith," Lewis wrote in a Facebook post. "We will not be including any other information, answers, or insight at this time."

Lewis' Facebook post linked to a YouTube video that included photos of the removal.

Fellow slackliner Sylvan Christensen also said he was part of the group that dismantled the landmark. Christensen posted an Instagram that included a video of the removal, and he also released a lengthy statement to Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City, saying that the area wasn't physically prepared for a large number of visitors.

"We removed the Utah Monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them. The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here— we are losing our public lands— things like this don't help," Christensen said. "Let's be clear: The dismantling of the Utah Monolith is tragic — and if you think we're proud— we're not. We're disappointed."

"Furthermore, we were too late. We want to make clear that we support art and artists, but legality and ethics have defined standards — especially here in the desert — and absolutely so in adventuring. The ethical failures of the artist for the 24" equilateral gouge in the sandstone from the erecting of the Utah Monolith, was not even close to the damage caused by the internet sensationalism and subsequent reaction from the world."

The monolith, discovered during a late-November helicopter flyover, was found southeast of Moab, about a half a mile from a high-clearance, 4x4 dirt road near the Canyonlands Needles District.

On Monday, Colorado-based photographer Ross Bernards told KSTU that he had watched the monolith fall on Friday evening.

Bernards said that a group of four people walked up as he and his friends were taking pictures, pushed the monolith over, took it apart and then loaded it onto a wheelbarrow and left.

Bernards said the group told him and his friends, "this is why you don't leave trash in the desert," and told his friends to, "Leave no trace."

The next morning, Bernards described seeing dozens of vehicles — including many not equipped to handle the rough road conditions — converge upon the area as people trampled through brush all over to find the monolith. Some of them, he recounted, were wandering up the wrong canyons in search of monument.

It was in that moment that Bernards said he understood why the group took the monolith down, and he agreed with the move.

Read Christensen's full statement below.

"We removed the Utah Monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them. The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here— we are losing our public lands— things like this don't help.

Let's be clear: The dismantling of the Utah Monolith is tragic— and if you think we're proud— we're not. We're disappointed. Furthermore, we were too late. We want to make clear that we support art and artists, but legality and ethics have defined standards-- especially here in the desert— and absolutely so in adventuring. The ethical failures of the artist for the 24" equilateral gouge in the sandstone from the erecting of the Utah Monolith, was not even close to the damage caused by the internet sensationalism and subsequent reaction from the world.

This land wasn't physically prepared for the population shift (especially during a pandemic).

People arrived by car, by bus, by van, helicopter, planes, trains, motorcycles and E-bikes and there isn't even a parking lot. There aren't bathrooms— and yes, pooping in the desert is a misdemeanor. There was a lot of that. There are no marked trails, no trash cans, and its not a user group area. There are no designated camp sites. Each and every user on public land is supposed to be aware of the importance and relevance of this information and the laws associated with them. Because if you did, anyone going out there and filming the monolith and monetizing it without properly permitting the use of the land— would know that's an offense too."

This story was originally published by Lauren Steinbrecher on KSTU in Salt Lake City.