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Front Page » July 31, 2012 » Carbon County News » BLM restores 9-Mile site after vandalism
Published 871 days ago

BLM restores 9-Mile site after vandalism


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By TERRY WILLIS
Sun Advocate contributing writer

Last September someone made a campfire in Nine Mile Canyon at the base of the petroglyph site called "First Site." If the smoke arising from the fire and staining the carvings wasn't enough, someone also took charcoal and scrawled graffiti across the panel. A $4,000 reward was posted to find who did it, but to this day no one has stepped forward with any information.

It would seem like this would be easy enough to clean up. Just squirt some water and scrub it. But in reality the process of cleaning up the damage can be more destructive to the ancient art if not done properly.

With this in mind, the Bureau of Land Management contacted Connie Silver, an expert in this type of restoration. Silver has worked in the area doing restoration projects with great success before.

Many may recognize her from the restoration project on the Buckhorn panel in the San Rafael Swell in 2004. She said it was one of the most vandalized sites in the nation.

Even though she lives in Vermont, Silver was just finishing up some work in Joshua Tree National Forest was able to make the short hop over to take on what she hopes will be phase one of a larger conservation and restoration project in the canyon.

Silver spent five days meticulously removing the worst of the damage from the panel. She starts out with keeping the bar high on her approach not to use any chemical methods for her restorations if she can. She used a specific buffing tool on a micro Dremel to remove most of the soot. She also has a special sponge (eraser) developed in Germany for taking soot off of art masterpieces that she uses as well.

As she worked on the smoke damage, she also uncovered a layer of chalk over the petroglyphs that she was able to remove. Silver made an effort to minimize some of the recent graffiti scratchings that have defaced the surface in more recent times, but she did not have her entire arsenal of restoration items with her so she is hoping to be able to come back and finish what she started.

On Monday Silver was able to show BLM archaeologist, Amber Kolski what she had accomplished and what more needs to be done. Kolski has recently joined the Price BLM Field Office and this is one of many projects greeting her in her first months in Price.

Kolski and Silver see the need for a much more extensive effort in Nine Mile Canyon for conservation and restoration efforts. Just at "First Site" alone Silvers identified further issues that need to be addressed to save the quality of the panel. Lichen growth is degrading and hiding many etchings. Grafitti and bullet holes draw the eye away from seeing the more subtle art underneath. Dust and even woodrat middens are all working to destroy this piece of the past that is unique to the world.

"This is an opportunity to use cutting edge methods that will be developing solutions that will also be of benefit to other areas facing similar issues. It will take a collaboration of people and be a multi-year project." Silver explained.

While it may seem a slam dunk to forge ahead, many factors on how and when it is to be done remain to be worked through. All the information from this and the 2011 dust study recommendations will be under consideration and open to ongoing discussions.

In the mean time Silver will move on to other projects. Rock art panels are just a small part of her repertoire. She specialized in interior restorations of fine art. Her biggest project to date was the State Supreme Court Building in New York City. That was a task that took several years.

Clarification

In the article "BLM closes door on Gateway project meeting" that was published in the Sun Advocate on July 28 it was stated that a representative of the Bureau of Land Management said the issuance of a public meeting notice to all media outlets was "a mistake." However, the issuance of that notice from the Carbon County Clerk's office was part of what the office must do under Utah State law when elected public officials are present in a meeting. According to County Clerk Robert Pero, the BLM did not let the county know that the meeting would be closed to the public or the media so his office advertised it as open. Under Federal law federal agencies do have the right to close meetings when dealing with certain kinds of subjects and those parameters differ from state law.

In the article "BLM closes door on Gateway project meeting" that was published in the Sun Advocate on July 28 it was stated that a representative of the Bureau of Land Management said the issuance of a public meeting notice to all media outlets was "a mistake." However, the issuance of that notice from the Carbon County Clerk's office was part of what the office must do under Utah State law when elected public officials are present in a meeting. According to County Clerk Robert Pero, the BLM did not let the county know that the meeting would be closed to the public or the media so his office advertised it as open. Under Federal law federal agencies do have the right to close meetings when dealing with certain kinds of subjects and those parameters differ from state law.

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