Utah: People died at Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat. Monument because no one put up a sign

DC: Dozens of people died after getting lost in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument because federal regulations prohibited officials from putting directional signs in place, a Utah county commissioner said.

Leland Pollock, the commission chair for Garfield County in Utah, testified in front of Congress Wednesday on President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back the designation of GSENM. The monument, established in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton, took an “egregious” toll on human life, Pollock testified.

Garfield County is one of three that contain portions of GSENM within its boundaries.

“The 1996 monument prohibits the most basic signing to direct visitors to and from the Dry Fork slot canyons. In the spring of 2018, an individual died from heat exhaustion after leaving the Dry Fork slot canyons and becoming unable to locate his way back to the parking lot,” Pollock said. “A simple $10 sign could have prevented the loss of life.”

“Reports indicate that in the 20 years the Clinton monument has been in existence more than 50 individuals have lost their lives, largely due to lack of appropriate, low cost signing. Most of the deficiencies with the Clinton monument can be attributed to overly restrictive regulations which prohibited reasonable visitation management,” Pollock added.

Democratic lawmakers called the hearing “Forgotten Voices: The Inadequate Review and Improper Alteration of Our National Monuments” and focused largely on the Trump administration’s December 2017 cutbacks of two national monuments in Utah, GSENM and Bears Ears.

The hearing, meant to be a reckoning on the review process that resulted in the cutbacks, grew partly into an indictment of the original GSENM designation. The Clinton administration largely kept the decision a secret until it was finalized. The administration sought no public input, nor did it consult with the state’s congressional delegation.  more

26 Comments on Utah: People died at Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat. Monument because no one put up a sign

  1. People don’t understand that the house always wins in the wilderness.

    Picked up a book — I think the title was “Death in Yellowstone” or something like it — at a gift shop while we were in Yellowstone. Dang near ruined my vacation. There are so many ways to die there.

  2. BFD

    If you are ever in Kerry you can walk right up to the edge of the Cliffs of Moher and take a look over, no chain link fence no damn warning signs every two feet obstructing the view, you are on your own.

    Krauts get plastered and fall off with regularity and if you want ot kick your own damn bucket, Americans go there to jump off and end it all. If someone ends up on the rocks down below there is no panic, they just wait until the tide is right and go collect the corpse.


  3. Ya’ know it’s been a long time since I was in Erin, I might shop a couple plane tickets for my daughter and I, just looking at pictures of The Cliffs made kinda want to take a trip.

    And no, People did not die at Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat. Monument because no one put up a sign.

  4. As a wilderness hiker, I use basic common sense and acquire/study topo maps of the area. I also carry a first-aid kit, compass & other odds & ends, and as much water as I can manage-funny thing; it gets lighter as you use it!
    No signal? leave your useless cellphone in the car.

  5. The desert is unforgiving of ignorance. It is very easy to get lost in Southern Utah. The summer sun can get you to the point of delirium quickly, then you really start to make stupid decisions.

    Many popular hikes are only marked with small stone cairns. They are often difficult to locate, and some clever hikers like to knock the cairns over, or move them. If you make a wrong turn, a short half-hour hike can get deadly when you don’t have enough water.

    My cousin was hiking Zions a few years ago. She and her husband were accessing the Narrows near the middle of the canyon. They cached a couple gallons of water near the access point into the canyon. On their way back, they came across a couple who had gotten lost and run out of water. They gladly shared their cache of water and got everyone back to the trailhead safely. She still gets letters from that couple. They knew that she and her husband had saved them from dying that day.

    A few years ago, I took my family to Goblin Valley State Park. It was late August and we arrived there late afternoon. The temperature was in the low 100’s and the sandstone had been baking in the sun since 5 am. The ranger on duty warned us to take water and not to go too far, as it was easy to get lost among the hoodoos. Yeah, whatever.

    She was right. After walking into the hoodoos, I quickly became disoriented. I wore a hat and took an umbrella, but the sandstone radiated more heat than the sun. It took me twenty minutes to get my bearings, then I panicked, not knowing where the older kids had gone. I made several forays back into the hoodoos without success. They finally wandered back. They had been gone nearly an hour without water. Fortunately, they found a cave and had spent most of their time in (relatively) cool shade with some other kids smarter than their parents.

    We came out fine, as do most visitors, but that same day, a couple died of dehydration and heat stroke hiking the Wave (it claims at least a few lives each year).

    As to designating vast swaths of land for federal protection, monument or park status is the kiss of death. Seldom known and rarely visited locations suddenly become inundated with hordes of well-intentioned dullards.

    Grand Staircase encompasses an enormous area but contains only a handful of interesting features that already had protection through the state or BLM. Outsiders come here and say they need to protect the vistas. You can see over a hundred miles in most of the West. What is the logical end to that reasoning?

  6. Hubby and I are in the Civil Air Patrol. One of our missions is to search for lost or injured hikers. Several years ago we were mobilized to search for a party of Spanish tourists lost in a portion of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Folks, this is rugged, mountainous terrain with lots of grizzlies. To make a long story short the hikers were found. They were so disoriented and weak they had to scramble a rescue Chinook out of Malmstrom Air National Guard base to airlift them out. We later learned that they were expecting groomed and well marked trails with signs. They didn’t have maps, had Insufficient gear to go into the wilderness and I suspect suffered from a lack of working brains! I don’t think they had a concept of what wilderness means.

  7. The environuts may potray Mother Nature a benevolent nurturing preesence but she’s not. Mother Nature is harsh and unforgiving kind of like the government.

    If instead of taking personal responsibility for your safety you are depending on either Mother Nature or the government, let us know where to send the flowers.

  8. I have the germ of an idea for a very bizarre fiction story.

    It involves high-powered elites in business and government who are secretly devil worshippers but do not show even the slightest outward sign of such. No robes, covens, pentagrams or that claptrap.

    Instead what they do is engineer various products, locations and even rules and laws to cause deaths which otherwise wouldn’t happen, which appear accidental but are actually by design.

    Each of those deaths is secretly dedicated to the demons the elites worship. They’re doing sanitized human sacrifice by remote control.

    Crazy idea, huh.

  9. “People died at Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat. Monument because no one put up a sign…”

    No, stupid people died because they assumed the outdoors is like a city, just with better air.

  10. When visiting, make sure to pick up some high top converses in Kanab. They have a physical store there.

    Also, before entering the park, please stop at the ruins of the old trading post on 89. The two Navajo ladies who sell jewelry there are pretty cool, and the one named Deborah is funny as hell.

    Oh…. um… try not to die. But if you do, try to do it in the most spectacularrrrrrrrr way imaginable. Not much else for the locals to talk about.

    Seriously, the North Rim of the grand canyon is a couple hours away. It has shade, facilities, all kinds of junk. Go there.

    Our western deserts will kill you. They should simply hand out Darwin Award applications at the entrance to most of our national parks.

    One last PRO TIP: the desert is cooler in the winter/spring. It has fewer visitors. Personally, I go to the Grand Canyon every New Years. It has a couple of feet of snow and looks 10 times better than in the summer.

  11. In 20 years… 50 people… died… because they drove out to a parking lot adjacent to “the wilderness”… took a walk… and couldn’t find their way back?

    Not nearly enough.

    (Oh, I don’t mean for the cost of signage.)

  12. Heat exhaustion/heat stroke is nothing to mess with. I got it last summer and it totally discombobulated me. You just want to lay down until it passes but by then you’re DEAD.

  13. National Park does not = safe space. Go in there unprepared and stupid and mother nature will kill you without mercy. She does not care about your feelings or what offends you, or who you voted for.

  14. I agree with all of you.
    If a sign was really going to help why didn’t the guy put one up himself?
    I watched a show about Death Valley. People get hurt or dead in Death Valley because tourists don’t read the signs. Signs. plural.

  15. A few years ago in Alaska, a couple of guys decided they wanted to have a wilderness experience somewhere in western Alaska. Don’t remember where exactly but it wasn’t a park. Good thing they remembered the sat phone because they didn’t bring mosquito dope. The mosquitoes ate well in the twelve hours it took to get rescued.

  16. lol. stupid hipsters who think they know ‘nature’ get weeded out.

    darwin approves. nature does not give one crap about you. that’s why we built civilization you dipshits.

  17. ‘The Clinton administration largely kept the decision a secret until it was finalized.’
    Sure, like secrets from The Clinton administration have ever been finalized.
    Honestly disclosed, nah,,, has never happened

  18. The same thing happens at Palouse Falls in South Eastern Wash. state nearly every year even with signs telling idiots not to get too close to the edge to view the 200 + ft. drop to the bottom of the canyon where the falls come out down below. And a few years ago some idiot kid went over Palouse Falls in a kayak at the height of the spring runoff, somehow he survived it and made a U Tube video of it.

  19. Quinn’s First Law (From Jim Quinn’s morning radio show out of Pennsylvania):
    Liberal policies ALWAYS generate the exact opposite of their stated intent. No exceptions.

  20. I think people feel safe in national parks for some reason. You know, paved parking lots, visitors centers, stuff like that.

    On the other hand, every natural wonder I’ve been to in Mesiko always induces caution. Because of the crappy roads, lack of fencing or maintenance. Before you even get to a scenic cliff you’re worried about dying.

    Maybe we should put up “ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE” signs or giant skull and crossbones at our parks. The “enjoy your stay” party line doesn’t seem to be very effective.

  21. @JDHasty
    I was just thinking the same about the Cliffs of Moher when I read your post. I love that they don’t spoil the beauty with signs for dumb people. I was in Doolin a while back and you’re right about the damn Germans. Those bastards take over Ireland every summer and ruin it for good people. Innisheer is my favorite Aran Island. Good place to get away from the crowd and the pub by the docks is a great place for Irish music.


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