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Should you knock over ancient boulders? Probably not.

A screengrab from the video. (AP/File)

Here’s a good rule of thumb, something to keep in mind going forward, maybe even print up and put in your wallet: You probably shouldn’t knock over ancient rock formations.

Two men in Utah who knocked over boulders dating back millions of years, and who gained a measure of infamy for videotaping this action, seem to have learned that lesson. Glenn Taylor and David Hall won’t go to jail, but they were sentenced to probation on Tuesday. They also have to pay an undetermined amount to put up warning signs around a state park.

A video showing them knocking over boulders in Goblin Valley State Park in the fall spread widely and garnered lots of attention. One of the men said he received death threats. They had held leadership positions with the Boy Scouts of America and were visiting the park with the Boy Scouts; they were removed from those positions by the Utah National Parks Council and the national organization.

“We wish we hadn’t done it,” Taylor told the Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday. “We’re sorry.”

The men were charged in January with criminal mischief (Taylor, who pushed over the rock) and aiding and assisting said mischief (Hall, who filmed it). They had said that the boulder looked like it might fall and hurt someone, which is why they pushed it over (and high-fived, as you can see in the still above). Hall’s uncle was killed by a falling boulder three decades earlier, which he said was on his mind while he filmed the video.

“I don’t believe the rock was presenting an imminent danger to anybody,” Fred Hayes, director of the Utah State Parks system, told NPR.

The rocks eroded from 170-million-year-old sandstone and cannot be replaced, according to the Utah State Parks.

Utah state Rep. Dixon Pitcher (R) had proposed a bill prohibiting people from altering, destroying or damaging any geological areas or formations in state parks, but it died in committee.

Here’s the video, which the Salt Lake Tribune uploaded to YouTube in the fall:


Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.



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Mark Berman · March 19, 2014

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