It took either 170 million or 20 million years (depending on the news source) for the wind and water to create the hoodoos that are the main attraction in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. It just took a minute for two Boy Scout troop leaders to push one over.
They say they thought it was dangerous; Dave Hall, the man behind the camera, tells a local TV station:
Seeing the circumstances and evaluating the safety of everybody, not just our Scout troop but everybody in the park, we had to decide: Is the safety of everyone here greater than the right for this rock to remain perched on an inch-and-a-half, razor-thin ledge of dirt and wobble?
Hoodoos are formed when layers of harder rock forms on top of softer sediment. Water, wind and freeze-thaw cycles erode the soft stuff, leaving the mushroom-like top. They have been around for a while and it is unlikely that it is teetering on the edge of collapse. The video shows a big guy doing a lot of work to push it over, it is hardly wobbling. (However according to ABC News, Mr. Taylor is "suffering permanent 'disability' and 'impairment' from an auto accident four years ago," so that may have affected how easy it was for him to push the rock.)
In an earlier post, I wrote, "When I was a Boy Scout, and indeed since the beginning of scouting, conservation and protection of the environment have been an integral part of the movement." So I personally cringed, watching this video, and I am certain a lot of other Scouts did as well. The Boy Scouts of America were not impressed, noting in a statement:
We are shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior. For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America has been a leader in conservation—from stewardship to sustainability. We teach our 2.6 million youth members and 1.1 million adult members, who collectively spend more than 5.5 million nights outdoors, the principles of “Leave No Trace.” These principles stress a commitment to maintaining the integrity and character of the outdoors and all living things.
Meanwhile the story got the Daily Mail and Guardian treatment, and the two scout leaders are getting death threats and hate mail from around the world. As a spokesperson for the State Park noted, "This is highly, highly inappropriate. This is not what you do at state parks. It’s disturbing and upsetting."
No merit badge for these guys.