MYSTERY WIRE — Leave the art to mother nature. This is the message from a photographer who watched four men demolish and remove the Utah monolith.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) visited the site where an illegally installed monolith had previously been discovered to confirm that an unknown party removed the structure sometime on the evening of Friday, Nov. 27.
The BLM stated they did not remove the structure which was discovered on public lands on November 18.
Colorado based nature photographer Ross Bernards says he not only knows what happened to the monolith, he saw it removed.
Bernards wrote in an Instagram post he visited the site late Friday to take photographs at night. But after having the site to himself for over an hour, four people showed up, knocked over the monolith, and removed it in pieces.
Bernards spoke at length to Mystery Wire about his experience.
On the social media platform TicTok a user that goes by the name Sylvan Slacks posted a short video of the monolith being removed. His user page links to a website for Moab Canyon Tours where there is a Sylvan listed as a guide. Mystery Wire spoke with an employee of this company who said Sylvan is not currently a guide with Moab Canyon Tours.
Another person who says he was present when the monolith was demolished is Michael James Newlands, 38, of Denver.
“It must have been 10 or 15 minutes at most for them to knock over the monolith and pull it out,” he told The New York Times. “We didn’t know who they were, and we were not going to do anything to stop them.” He added, “They just came in there to execute and they were like, ‘This is our mission.’”
Despite attempts to keep visitors from locating the monolith, over the course of Thanksgiving week, the BLM said a relatively large number of people still showed up to the site, which has not been developed for heavy visitation.
“The structure received national and international interest and sparked a dialogue regarding who installed it and what it symbolized, generating widespread attention,” said the BLM in a press release. “The BLM received both positive and negative input regarding the status of the structure and was investigating who installed it when a person or group removed it.”
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act prohibit any development on public lands without approval by the BLM.
“We recognize the incredible interest the ‘monolith’ has generated world-wide. Many people have been enjoying the mystery and view it as a welcome distraction from the 2020 news cycle,” said Monticello Field Manager Amber Denton Johnson. “Even so, it was installed without authorization on public lands and the site is in a remote area without services for the large number of people who now want to see it. Whenever you visit public lands please follow Leave No Trace principles and Federal and local laws and guidance.”
The BLM said visitors who flocked to the site parked on vegetation and left behind human waste as evidence of their visit. There is no restrooms or parking areas at this site and the BLM recommends that visitors not attempt to visit the site, which has no cell service and requires high clearance vehicles.
Authorities said passenger vehicles have already been towed from the area.
“We remind the public that driving off designated roads and trails in the Monticello Field Office is illegal.”