I’d like to believe that it goes without saying, that as travelers, we should “leave no trace” while out on our adventures around the world. The Boy Scouts of America live by the creed; they believe it and teach it to the youth of today. What happens when one of the respected leaders does the opposite? What message does that send out? The recent activity in Goblin Valley State Park is a reminder to all of us, that nature is there to be seen, cherished and left as is for our future generations to enjoy.
Goblin Valley State Park, in Southern Utah, is the home to one of the most amazing sights you might ever see. If you’re lucky enough to see it from above, it’s a strange sight including odd shaped rock formations surrounded by eroded cliffs. The rock formations are millions of years old, and with the help of wind, water and a delicate mixture of sand, goblins are formed. Goblins are large, heavy rocks resting on top of softer sand peaks which were formed after erosion. It was one such goblin that was recently toppled over by the school-boy antics of three men during a camp-out weekend in the park.
The men claimed the rock was going to fall and hurt a child at any moment, and they were doing their duty to keep tragedy from happening. A 200 million year old goblin was rocked and pushed off its delicate pedestal while cheers echoed from the men. As you watch the video posted by the Salt Lake Tribune on YouTube, you’ll hold your breath, hoping the goblin won’t fall, and then when you see and hear the thud on the ground, your breath leaves you disappointment. And as you hear the cheers from the men and watch the childish song and dance that takes place during the event, its apparent the last thing on their minds is committing this act on behalf of saving a child’s life, but instead, as an afterthought to what they just did.
Regardless of whether or not the men were trying to save a child’s life by toppling the goblin, the first act should have been to GPS the location of the goblin, and set off to find a park ranger to report the loose rock. It wasn’t their right or their call, to destroy a piece of history. As one man yells, “We have now modified Goblin Valley.” How sad is that. Yes, it’s forever altered.
As we travel with our children we do our best to teach them the do’s and don’ts of tourism etiquette. One daughter is a toucher, and I’m sure she would love to feel the harsh textures of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. However it’s obvious that if every tourist who saw it did the same the masterpiece would be ruined from dirt and wear. The same holds true for removing corals and rocks from the Great Barrier Reef. Our son is a collector. “But it’s just one tiny little coral, Mum!” It’s important that we teach our children that as harmless as their actions may seem at the time, the cumulative effect of millions of people taking the same, seemingly small action over an extended period of time would be catastrophic.