Saturday, November 14, 2009

The BLM has proposed 63 sites in Nine Mile Canyon for the National Register of Historic Places

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed 63 sites in Utah's Nine Mile Canyon for the National Register of Historic Places. Nine Mile Canyon, located on the Tavaputs Plateau in Northeastern Utah is home to as many as 10,000 different rock art drawings. Nicknamed "the longest art gallery in the world," Nine Mile Canyon contains one of the densest concentrations of Fremont culture rock art anywhere in Utah.

Since 2002, deposits of natural gas are being developed on the Tavaputs Plateau. Truck traffic going to and from these natural gas wells is disturbing enough dust in Nine Mile Canyon that preservationists and rock art lovers are concerned the irreplaceable archaeological sites could be damaged. With more development pending, the BLM and conservation groups like the Nine Mile Coalition, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are trying to call attention to the situation.

The rock art, or petroglyphs (drawings pecked or carved into the stone) found in Nine Mile Canyon have been chiseled out of sandstone covered in dark "desert varnish." The figures, formed in the freshly exposed rock, stand out in contrast to the darker, older background rock of the panels. The perpetual dust kicked up by large truck traffic in the canyon threatens to dull the contrast, and visual power of these rock art panels.

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While the National Register of Historic Places wouldn't provide protection for the archaeological sites in Nine Mile Canyon, it would recognize their importance.

For more information about the Fremont Culture and their rock art.

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