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Park Service Sends Utah Rock Art Nomination Back To The Drawing Board

The Great Hunt panel in Nine Mile Canyon, eastern Utah
The Great Hunt panel in Nine Mile Canyon, eastern Utah

A fight is brewing in eastern Utah over whether the National Park Service should include nearly 200 rock art sites in the National Register of Historic Places.

In March of last year, a group of volunteers and preservationists submitted a proposal to add 199 rock art sites to the Register, an effort that took a decade to complete.

The petition was accepted by the National Park Service last year, but has since been returned for revisions.

“It’s creating more work for the volunteers, the archaeologists, the preservationists,” said Aaron Weiss with the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation advocacy group. “There’s no good reason to do it.”

But Mike Litterst, a National Park Service spokesman, says the revision phase is common practice.

“I’d like to stress that we did not reject the nomination,” Litterst said. “As soon as that additional information is provided, we’ll dive right back in, pick up right where we left off.”

Meanwhile, the Interior Department is considering rule changes around how sites are added to the National Register of Historic Places. These include the ability of a federal agency to ignore a historic site request if on public lands, and the removal of a requirement to consult with tribes when determining whether a site should be listed.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2021 KUNR Public Radio. To see more, visit KUNR Public Radio.