Letter of the week: Goblin topplers had a good reason

Published April 19, 2014 7:07 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I am disturbed by the constant, critical comments by uniformed people who lack professional knowledge and understanding of the impact geologic hazards have on our society. I have more than 20 years of experience working with geologic hazards, including rockfall control and rockfall research.

When the topplers said they pushed the boulder over for safety reasons, in my opinion, they were right. When a boulder has its support base eroded to the point that a human can push it over, it is going to fall on its own in the near future. It could have fallen if a person just climbed on it, possibly injuring or killing them.

The time to correct a geologic hazard is before the predictable event occurs and under controlled conditions. The best analogy I can think of is when an avalanche is purposely shot down in a controlled environment and before the inevitable happens. Ask the homeowners near Zion, where a boulder crashed into and destroyed their home, if they would have preferred that someone recognized its instability and removed it before it fell.

If the topplers would have just pushed it over and walked away instead of immaturely filming and putting it on the internet, no one would have known how the rock fell. Now it joins the numerous other boulders in Goblin Valley and is no longer a safety risk.

In my opinion, the topplers actions were mostly positive and didn't deserve the outcome they received. This analysis is based on science, not irrational emotion. Hopefully this information will help negate the criticism of this event.

Earl Barnes