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Accidents prompting possible restrictions on Corona Arch

Published: Thursday, June 12 2014 3:00 p.m. MDT

The Bureau of Land Management is considering a ban on extreme sports at Utah's popular Corona Arch in Moab. It says it's received complaints from people about the extreme sports. Kyle Stocking, 22, died while extreme swinging from the arch in 2013. His parents' say they don't want a ban on extreme activities.

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SOUTHERN UTAH — A few times a week one can see thrill-seekers jumping off Corona Arch. The 250-foot arch has been named by many as the world's largest rope swing. Despite the potential dangers, adventurers say it's worth the risk. Slacklining, highlining, rope swinging and rappelling are allowed on the arch, but two accidents are now prompting possible restrictions.

"The fact that we lost our son is painful, but it's comforting to know we lost our son doing something that he loved," said Mike Stocking, the father of one accident victim.

In 2013, Kyle Stocking lost his life while rope jumping on Corona Arch. Stocking and five friends miscalculated the length of the rope. His parents call it an accident and say it's not reason enough to ban rope jumping. In fact, they think jumpers should continue, but they want commercial outfitters to be there to set up and guide the swing.

"Had that been done for Kyle, he probably would've lived," said Linda Stocking, Kyle Stocking's mother.

The arch recently became federal land in May as part of a land exchange. Since then, the Bureau of Land Management says it's received complaints from people who say they want to marvel at a natural wonder, not visit an extreme sports arena. The bureau is now conducting an environmental study to figure out exactly what its 4,000 yearly visitors want from the park.

If the restrictions are implemented, they would be reconsidered after two years.

"During those two years, it gives us more time to do a more in-depth process," said Rock Smith, Moab BLM field office manager.

The study will wrap up within the next few days, then the bureau will ask for public comment. Mike and Linda Stocking are prepared to speak for their late son.

"If we take away the excitement in life, what is there to live for?" asked Mike Stocking.

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