While assisting the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in a count of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, on November 23, the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau discovered a metal monolith in a remote area of red rock.
The crew immediately landed nearby to investigate the mysterious object further.
Crew members report there was no evidence indicating who or what could have placed the monolith in such a challenging area to access.
Due to the monolith having been placed in a very remote area that could lead to visitors possibly getting stranded and requiring rescue, officials did not reveal the exact location of the discovery.
According to the Department of Public Safety, “It is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed lands, no matter what planet you’re from.”
Despite attempts to keep visitors from locating the monolith, over the course of Thanksgiving, the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, shared that a relatively large number of people still showed up to the site.
“The structure received national and international interest and sparked a dialogue regarding who installed it and what it symbolized, generating widespread attention,” read a BLM press release.
But then following the viral rage, the mysterious Utah monolith vanished.
“We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’, has been removed from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands by an unknown party,” BLM-Utah spokesperson Kimberly Finch shared. “The BLM did not remove the structure, which is considered private property. We do not investigate crimes involving private property, which are handled by the local sheriff’s office. The structure has received international and national attention and we received reports that a person or group removed it on the evening of Nov. 27.”
At first, how the monolith was removed, remained a mystery, but not anymore.
Two local adventure sportsmen, Andy Lewis and Sylvan Christensen have decided to step forward and share that their role in removing the Utah monolith.
In the Instagram post featuring the #LeaveNoTrace hashtag, Christensen said the internationally celebrated monolith was inflicting damage to the pristine, remote region and threatened even more of a detrimental impact.
“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, freshwater sources, and human impacts upon them,” Christensen confides urging people to protect valuable public lands. “Things like this don’t help.”
In a 23-second long youtube video, viewers can watch how the adventure guides dismantle the structure and remove it from the scene.
Since the post Tuesday, reactions towards Christensen and his team have not been the kindest. Most youtube comments are unimpressed and call the removal a publicity stunt. However, the men say they are not proud of what they did.
“The dismantling of the Utah Monolith is tragic— and if you think we’re proud— we’re not. We’re disappointed…” Christensen writes. “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.”
Christensen shares that removing the structure is tragic, but he adds that those who trek to the monolith without being properly permitted to use the land would be facing some sort of offense.
“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.”
As for who took the monolith, that mystery is solved! Yet, how the metal structure ended up in the lonely Utah desert in the first place remains unknown.