Notes from the Field: Utah's Nine Mile Canyon Under Threat

Posted on: April 18th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Prehistoric rock art at Nine Mile Canyon.Nine Mile Canyon, located northeast of Price, Utah, is under threat from a new project proposed by Bill Barrett Corporation and the Bureau of Land Management that would bring 800 new wells to the plateau above Nine Mile Canyon and dramatically increase the level of traffic within the canyon.

On Wednesday, we went to the canyon, which is renowned for its significant concentration of prehistoric rock art panels that illustrate a wide variety of images, including bighorn sheep, anthromorphs, and various other animals and figures. The Nine Mile Canyon area is also a prime location for the extraction of natural gas. Visitors to the canyon can see evidence of natural gas development in the form of pipelines, a large compressor station, and, perhaps most noticeably, industrial traffic traveling through the canyon to project sites.

While visiting a number of the canyon's significant rock art panels, we witnessed several large tanker trunks driving through the canyon and raising large plumes of dust in their wake. On several occasions, these trucks passed within yards of rock art panels, particularly those located near Nine Mile Canyon's confluence with Gate and Cottonwood Canyons. Increased traffic will present an increased danger to these irreplaceable artifacts.

The National Trust will provide BLM with comments on the proposal by May 1, and we want to encourage people to speak out about the harm that will result from this new development if it is allowed to move forward as planned. More information about the proposed development and how to contact the BLM is available on our main website.

-- Ti Hays and Amy Cole

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Amy Cole is the Senior Program Officer & Regional Attorney for the Trust's Mountains-Plains Office.

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