Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spiral Jetty Remembered or Under Threat?

A few years back the Spiral Jetty reemerged from the Great Salt Lake that had inundated nearly since it was completed in the early 1970's. In fall of 2002, a couple of friends and I went out to Rozel Point and I took many pictures. I also made a video of the experience (which is not shared anywhere on the Internet, simply because it is long and probably not all that interesting to anyone but me.) If you go to my Spiral Jetty flickr set and look at my pictures, you can see my friends and I had quite the time out there, and I was able to take some of my best pictures ever, despite my shoddy digital equipment, and a propensity to be a poor self-editor and post everything I took to flickr.

While we were there for most of the afternoon, we actually started on to the Jetty itself just as the sun was setting. I have never witnessed in my entire life such a sunset with vibrant color. The sky flared up in a raspberry/orange firestorm. I had no idea how to capture such color on my camera back then, so the pictures do not do it justice at all. Suffice it to say, I think it was a surreal and spectacular moment that I will carry with me until I die.

It is sad to say, however, that the Jetty is now under threat because of off-shore oil drilling. A member of the Spiral Jetty Group I administrate on flickr wrote yesterday the following post:

For those of you who have been to Spiral Jetty or know of it, I was deeply concerned today when receiving this information. There are plans for drilling oil in the Salt Lake near Spiral Jetty. The deadline for protest is today 1/30/08, Wednesday, at 5PM.

While the oil wells will not be above the water, it also means there will have to be some kind of industrial complex of pipes and pumps beneath the water and on the shore. The operation would require roads for oil tank trucks, cranes, pumps etc. which produce noise and will severely alter the wild, natural place.

If you want to send a letter of protest to save the beautiful, natural Utah environment around the Spiral Jetty from oil drilling, the emails or calls of protest go to Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023 Please refer to Application # 8853. Every letter makes a big difference.

OK! So that's it folks...if you have a chance to write or call it would be much appreciated. My flicks from the Jetty are here and also check out the Spiral Jetty Flickr Group.

Now if you leaf through my pictures you will see that there is actually quite a bit of abandoned industrial action near the Jetty as it is. What I fear will happen if the oil drilling goes through, is not really what the poster notes, that it will irrevocably alter the landscape out there and, destroy the Jetty in its environs (although that is a valid concern). They've gone through all this before, and they will no doubt abandon this effort as well, leaving rusting hunks of speculation, and blown-out trailers of avarice in their wake. What really bothers me about all this is that sinking oil wells by the most important work of art in Utah wasn't even a factor for the people planning this action, and it is a joke to others. Similarly not many take the Great Salt Lake all that seriously anyway; most think that it is dead and nothing needs it. There is precious-little respect for anything that doesn't make immediate payoff here in Utah. There is little respect for nature and even less respect for art.

That makes me skeptical of the future of the Spiral Jetty.

According to KSL, the office cited in the posting has apparently received hundreds of emails, and is now going to have to reconsider the plans. Reconsidering them, however, does not mean they will change them.

We'll see.

You might note, as well, the seeming mocking tone of the KSL piece: precious development threatened by art! I would suggest that you stay well-away from the comments altogether, unless you have a penchant for nature-hating idiots.

Overall, I would recommend that if you are in Utah (or you want to make a quick trip here) and you haven't been to the Jetty, you'd better get out there fast before the seeming inevitable work (after all big oil rules the roost in this neck of the desert) takes place.



  1. "Stay away from the comments" .... NO Kidding!

    Reading through some of them last night, I was reminded that I live in a little bubble of "liberal" thought by the company I keep. Seriously, I am so not exposed to those attitudes on a regular basis that it came as an actual shock to remember that the majority in Utah is actually composed of blood-red, tofu-despising, hippy-hating, conservative blowhards who have no appreciation for the natural beauty of our state beyond what they can exploit out of it to fill their Ford Excursions with gas so they can tote the entire seventeen-child-strong clan to their local Ward house on Sunday in order to reinforce their narrow stranglehold on the planet!!!

  2. I'm going to write, even though I'm two days late. I love the jetty. It's one of the most inexplicably stunning places I've ever seen.

  3. I've alway meant to get out there--maybe this will give me sufficient inspiration to do so. The pics are amazing.