Panel kills bill to criminalize destruction of geo features
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.
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.
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