Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Michael Hakkarinen, Cottonwood Heights, writes a note to place in the U.S. Forest Service register on June 26, 2014, near the spot where a flagpole was mounted in concrete on the Mount Olympus summit. An LDS Church spokeswoman acknowledged that missionaries from the Salt Lake City East mission erected the flagpole, which violates rules in the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area.
Hikers knock down flagpole illegally erected on Utah peak
Wilderness » Missionaries to remove concrete they poured.
First Published Jun 26 2014 04:54 pm • Last Updated Jun 27 2014 09:06 am

An unidentified hiker or group of hikers by Thursday had knocked down a flagpole that Mormon missionaries illegally erected on the summit of Mount Olympus last weekend.

Hiker Joe Bullough said he found the pole lying on the ground when he hiked to the top of the peak east of Salt Lake City Thursday morning.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

He had seen the pole, adorned with an American flag and autographed mission T-shirt, last weekend.

Bullough, who has climbed the 9,026-foot-elevation peak 478 times, carried the pole back down the mountain Thursday because he doesn’t like to see litter, he said. The peak is in the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area.

Eight missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created a concrete anchor and placed the 8-foot flagpole on the famous Salt Lake Valley landmark, apparently on Saturday.

Along with the flag, they attached a T-shirt adorned with their autographs and the message "Go Baptize! Only Utah Salt Lake City EAST Mission."

Church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said Thursday, "The church has reached out to the Forest Service and is working on a resolution."

Moody declined to comment on whether Salt Lake City East Mission leaders were aware of or sanctioned the missionaries’ flagpole-erecting activity.

Cathy Kahlow, Salt Lake district ranger, confirmed that a church attorney contacted the U.S. Forest Service and assured the agency that the missionaries would remove the concrete.

"It needs to be naturalized and the area needs to be back to its natural state," Kahlow said.

story continues below
story continues below

Mount Olympus is part of a 15,300-acre wilderness area, which means no mechanized equipment or permanent improvements are allowed. The Mount Olympus Wilderness also includes Mount Raymond and Gobbler’s Knob.

Even outside of a wilderness area, a flagpole would require a permit, she said. "Generally we don’t issue permits for random structures on the forest," Kahlow said.

"When it’s a flag it’s always tricky. It’s not about the patriotism. Everybody likes the flag but there are places where they are appropriate," Kahlow said. "It’s a newly created structure that is offensive to some as it relates to wilderness values... It’s a challenge because it’s so close to a city."

She said people don’t usually try to build permanent structures in the wilderness area. More commonly, they ride mountain bikes or bring mechanized equipment.

Kahlow said she doesn’t plan to pursue charges against the elders, as long as they remove the concrete.

The penalty for violating the Wilderness Act ranges from a fine of several hundred dollars to prosecution if violators are not compliant with requests to remove structures.

Reporter Brian Maffly contributed to this story.

dmanley@sltrib.com Twitter: @daniellekmanley

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.