Would paved road ruin Nine Mile Canyon?
By brandon loomis
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Feb 18 2011 06:00PM
Updated Feb 19, 2011 12:20AM
Price • Paving the dirt road through Nine Mile Canyon may be the next step in a landmark agreement to drill nearby gas wells while protecting ancient rock art from dust — though it’s one that some of the canyon’s fans fear would change it forever.
Carbon County wants to own the portion of the canyon road managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the county and the Bill Barrett Corp. hope to put a $20 million chip-seal surface on it to suppress dust from the gas field’s truck traffic. The state would kick in $5 million, the company $10 million and Carbon and Duchesne counties $5 million for the road work.
“That’s the answer: some kind of permanent cover to keep the dust down,” said Ray Matheny, a retired archaeologist who has studied the canyon’s petroglyphs and other sites for decades and once led Brigham Young University’s field school there. Big trucks rumbling on the dirt road kick up dust that obscures and may damage the rock art, he said, even since the company agreed to apply a pitch-based suppressant when needed.
“It’s just unacceptable,” Matheny said of the dust.