Sacred Ground Or Playground?

Lots of blood boiled when the above video went viral last week, showing Utah Boy Scout leaders destroying an iconic rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park:

Despite their assertions that they were concerned for the safety of others in the park after watching a family with small children pass below, the lighthearted attitude of the film paints a different picture for many as the men cheer and high-five. Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said Thursday he found the video disturbing and has asked that possible criminal charges be considered in the case. … A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America called the act by two leaders disappointing and reprehensible. “We teach our 2.6 million youth members and 1.1 million adult members … the principles of ‘leave no trace.’ These principles stress a commitment to maintaining the integrity and character of the outdoors and all living things,” according to a statement from the BSA.

Michael Byrne thinks the uproar reveals a split in American attitudes toward nature:

On the one hand are dudes like this, frequently found in the Utah desert piloting 4X4s around black-stained slickrock trails, and then there’s the crowd more into hiking and quietly being awed. You know, Coors versus Dales. Or whatever. I hate even acknowledging it, but every spot of public land in the U.S. will have some version of this user divide. It goes back to old definitions of “use” I suppose, exploitation vs. preservation. Ours vs. ours to protect. It’s not that easy, of course, and they bleed together probably as much as they separate, but it’s hard not to see a rift in values. It’s a rift that leads to things like this.