October 7, 2008

BLM wants Nine Mile Canyon on Historic Places list


Nine Mile Canyon petroglyph.

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal officials want parts of Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon put on the National Register of Historic Places.

The canyon northeast of Price — sometimes called the world’s longest art gallery — is home to more than 10,000 ancient rock carvings and drawings.
Bureau of Land Management officials plan to nominate the area for the national designation.

The paperwork will probably be submitted in the next four to six months, said Byron Loosle, BLM’s state archaeologist.

The nomination will include about 800 sites in the canyon, including parts of public and private land. Some private landowners in the area have asked not to be included and won’t be in the proposal, Loosle said.

The BLM hopes to group the sites together under a single nomination.

The decision comes as the BLM considers a proposal to allow more than 800 new wells on a plateau above the canyon.

The plan has come under fire over concerns that increased natural gas activity will dramatically increase the number of trucks driving through the canyon. Some worry extra dust kicked up by the trucks will jeopardize the rock art.

Listing on the National Register is an honorific designation and wouldn’t add additional protections for the petroglyphs and pictographs.

Advocates for the canyon have been pushing for historic designation for years.

Pam Miller, chair of the Nine Mile Coalition, said she’s glad to see the BLM finally making the move.

“It’s a gold star moment,” Miller said. The designation would be a recognition “that Nine Mile Canyon played a significant part in the history of Utah and even the United States.”

She’s hoping the listing could also lead to funds to help preserve cultural artifacts in the canyon.

The BLM will make the nomination in cooperation with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office.

The National Register is administered by the National Park Service. The BLM says about 30,000 properties are added to the list each year.