Men called 'Karens of the hiking world' after removing Utah monolith to protect the land

Graig Graziosi
·3-min read
 (AP)
(AP)

A pair of men have removed the mysterious Utah monolith after claiming visitors to the site were destroying the land. Critics of the move have called them "Karens of the hiking world."

Sylvan Christensen, an adventure tour guide, and BASE jumper Andy Lewis - who goes by "Sketchy Andy" - removed the monolith and posted a video showing their deconstruction on social media.

The duo gave a statement to the Daily Mail explaining their reasoning.

"We removed the Utah Monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them," Mr Christensen said.

He said he hoped their actions would draw attention to the loss of public land.

"The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here — we are losing our public lands — things like this don't help," he said.

He said he was not proud of having to remove the monolith, but said the increasing in traffic to the site had already taken a toll on the land.

"Let's be clear: The dismantling of the Utah Monolith is tragic — and if you think we're proud — we're not. We're disappointed. Furthermore, we were too late," he said. "This land wasn't physically prepared for the population shift (especially during a pandemic)."

Mr Christensen said he had observed tourists arriving to visit the site by cars, buses, off-road vehicles. He said there were some individuals who even flew in to see the monolith.

He said that some visitors even defecated at the site.

"There aren't bathrooms— and yes, pooping in the desert is a misdemeanor. There was a lot of that. There are no marked trails, no trash cans, and its not a user group area," he said.

The US Bureau of Land Management attested to their complaints, confirming that traffic to the site had damaged the surrounding land.

Though their reasons for removing the mysterious structure were well meaning, it did not come without criticism.

"Dude... come on," one person said on the Instagram video of the duo pulling down the monolith. "You’re just being a self-righteous a**. This was an exception to the rule."

The critic said the BLM should have been the ones to decide if the monolith was removed.

"It wasn’t damaging the landscape like graffiti on stone would. It was intriguing art that put Utah in the international spotlight. It was BLM’s call to make for its removal or establishment, not yours," they said.

Another user said Mr Christensen was a hypocrite because he makes his living bringing people into the desert.

"This from a guide company. Oh the hypocrisy. How many ridiculous anchors has Moab Canyon Tours placed in canyons? I’m so carrying a wrench and will be removing random anchors from Moab canyons. Better start packing a bolt kit or at least a sandtrap," they said.

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