Stealing Rock Canyon: Land Rights Dispute Sparks Activism

The Climbing Wall in Rock CanyonThere are no security guards or high-tech alarm systems to protect this treasure. Instead, it is the rock climbers, hikers, campers and recreationists that are working overtime to protect this gem from being stolen. Rock Canyon in Provo, Utah has long been a haven of solitude for the humble seeker of peace and the nature lover alike; but recent disputations over land rights have formed darkening clouds on the horizon.

In the mid-1990s Richard Davis purchased nearly 80 acres of Rock Canyon along with a 1906 mining claim. Recently, Davis has sought to use his claim in order to mine quartz from the mountain; a prospect that has recreationists and naturalists up in arms.

Richard Davis, however, has legal rights to the land; and with consent from Provo city and the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Davis has control of the reigns with how he will use his land. His plan: mine quartz, which is beneficial for the lucrative minerals with which it is layered. In order to obtain the quartz, rock would be cut away from the mountain, which one pro-canyon activist, Jim Knight, compared to cutting off the nose of the Mona Lisa.

Activists are doing what they can to play the role of security guard, trying to put a stop to the bulldozer. Writing letters to public officials, organizing rallies, creating a Facebook page, which encourages people to share their stories and feelings about the beloved canyon, are all a part of the security belt worn by the activists.

But the activists aren’t the only faction fighting. Richard Davis wants justice. He wants to be able to use his land as he chooses, which includes both mining and housing development prospects. While no strong action has been taken on either side, Davis feels that his land is being stolen.

For me, the question is not one of legality but one of decency. Having the right to do as you please with your own property doesn’t mean you should do as you please. The effects of an individual spread throughout the community, whether for benefit or bereft. It is the responsibility of each of us to work toward the greater good, the betterment of society as a whole, rather than our own personal gain.

Photo Credit: Frank the Tank via Flickr under Creative Commons License

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