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EDITORIAL: Bureau of Land Management searches for someone who moved rocks in the desert

If someone moves rocks in the desert and no one notices, should that trigger a full-blown Bureau of Land Management investigation? That’s the absurdity playing out right now involving a mysterious piece of landscape art on the edge of the Las Vegas Valley.

The Review-Journal’s Brett Clarkson reported on the story several weeks ago. David Golan, who lives in the southwest valley, was walking his dogs when he noticed something from the top of a hill. The shadows below contained a pattern. He soon realized he was looking down at a yin and yang sign made by rearranged rocks. The artwork is in the desert just west of South Fort Apache Road and Cactus Avenue.

It’s much easier to see from the sky. Google Earth shows a yin and yang sign sitting at one vertex of a triangle. At a second vertex is smiling face with a unique hat. It’s unclear if the face is supposed to be a human or monkey, but the facial expression was once a frown. The sculpture is substantial. The sides of the triangle are each more than 50 feet in length. When you’re at the location, Mr. Golan said it just looks as if rocks are piled up in some areas and cleared away in others. A review of Google Earth shows construction began around 2017. By mid-2019, the piece looked similar to its current appearance.

It’s one of the more interesting contributions to the area’s attractive desert landscaping and scenery. But all this has BLM bureaucrats hopping mad, though they didn’t know about the artwork until the Review-Journal contacted them about it. Kirsten Cannon, the spokesperson for BLM’s Southern Nevada District, huffed, “Permits are issued for land art such as this,” voicing concern about protecting the environment. She added, “Land art can increase visitation to an area, so proper site location and a permit are important.”

That may be true, but is this land sculpture really something that needed to be approved by land managers? Is there any evidence of serious damage or destruction? Development is already well underway in the area.

It appears that an official investigation has begun. Ms. Cannon confirmed recently that BLM law enforcement officers “went to the area, took photographs and compiled a report.”

“At this time, there are no suspects,” Ms. Cannon said. “Since we can’t currently pinpoint who did this, our lands division will add this to our workload queue to coordinate with our resources division for reclamation work.”

Good grief. If you’ve ever wondered whether federal bureaucrats have too much time on their hands, here is your answer.

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