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What to do about Utah and Arizona's The Wave?

Published August 6, 2013 7:37 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Tribune's Matt Piper did a good job last week of addressing possible ways of preventing future deaths in the beautiful but remote wilderness area on the Utah-Arizona line called The Wave.

Considering the options from Piper's article, here is a list of pros and cons.

Put up more signs • Pro: Always good for directions; low-impact. Con: Eliminates some of the wilderness feel; unless you put signs everywhere you're not going to help every lost hiker.

Cairns • Pro: Works on plenty of other trails; low-impact. Con: Not as communicative as a sign.

Cell towers • Pro: Will facilitate communication for those who need help. Con: Are you kidding? I go to the wilderness to get away from the phone!

Rent GPS devices to hikers • Pro: Can provide better directions than signs or cairns while being unobtrusive. Con: You going to train every hiker on how to use the devices, too? What if the GPS breaks or batteries fail?

Let more hikers in • Pro: More eyeballs could mean more help for those who need it; everyone should see The Wave anyway. Con: But not necessarily at the same time; what if the guy giving you directions is as lost as you?

Do nothing • Pro: Preserves The Wave. Con: Sooner or later, someone else is going to die.

It may not happen again this year or for a few years. And someone may die even if you make one or some of these changes. Even under the permit system, The Wave gets thousands of visitors a year. You can't protect everyone.

The Bureau of Land Management says a working group will meet to decide what, if any, changes to make at The Wave. What do you think should be done? Comment below, send us a tweet or post a message on our Facebook page.