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A screen grab from a video showing three men knocking over one of the formations at Goblin Valley State Park.
Panel kills bill to criminalize destruction of geo features
First Published Feb 26 2014 07:00 pm • Last Updated Feb 26 2014 07:49 pm

In a split vote, a House panel killed a measure outlining criminal penalties for damaging natural features in Utah state parks.

Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden, sponsored HB68 after two Scout leaders posted video of them toppling a geological formation in Goblin Valley State Park last spring. The incident sparked an international outcry and felony vandalism charges against the men.

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But Utah has no law specific to the men’s misconduct, prompting Pitcher to draft the legislation that would protect "any geological area, site, feature, or formation" located in a state park. It also would have established a way to calculate a value for such features.

The bill would have charged someone responsible for damage exceeding $1,500 with a third-degree felony.

But some lawmakers were concerned with how the bill would define a protected geological feature and said existing vandalism laws are enough.

"I’m not sure how far we are casting this net," said Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville.

— Brian Maffly

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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