A rash of serious vandalism has hit southern Utah, and a Garfield County commissioner says machinery on the Burr Trail might need to be guarded at night.
Between two months ago and this week, vandals:- Shot to death at least one cow, and probably two others, south of Hanksville.
- Damaged a backhoe and a generator parked on the controversial Burr Trail.
- Spray-painted slogans on the sidewalk in front of the Bureau of Land Management's Hanksville office, disabled locks, squeezed liquid epoxy glue into locks on two of the building's doors, broke into a vehicle lot and stenciled swastikas and the communist hammer-and-sickle insignia on all vehicles there.
- Knocked a valve out of a pipeline that serves a livestock trough.
- Yanked out a quarter-mile of new fence posts near the pipeline.
The cattle-shooting happened within the past two months, said Wayne County Sheriff Leeon Brinkerhoff, Loa. The cattle belonged to Ralph and Paul Pace of Bicknell. Three cows were found dead close to a road. One was shot in the head, and investigators peeled the hide back to check the bullet hole.
"It was small caliber," Brinkerhoff said. "The other two were so rotten and stinky that we were unable to determine what they were shot with," he said.
"We were just assuming they were shot because the other one was. It was pretty close to the fence that was taken down, and where the water troughs were vandalized." About 19 miles east of Boulder, Garfield County, where a bridge was being installed in the controversial Burr Trail project, a backhoe and an industrial generator were sabotaged the night of March 17.
"Dirt had been poured into the tank of the backhoe, and it had been started up. I don't know the amount of damage that was done to it," said Garfield County Deputy Sheriff Celeste Bernards, stationed in Escalante and Boulder.
"A small hole had been punched into the crankcase" of the generator, so that the oil ran out, and the machine wouldn't start.
Garfield County Commissioner Louise Liston said, "We've been expecting it, of course, because we feel like any kind of work we do on the Burr Trail from now on will be challenged some way or another."
Liston added: "I think that we're just going to have to be very cautious and have guards . . . We'll probably draw it (the equipment) all together like we did before, and then just have a watchman there."
On March 19, vandals hit the Hanksville Area BLM office with red spray paint, using elaborate stencils to leave their messages.
Epoxy glue was squirted into the locks on the front and side entrances, "but they missed the back door," said Bert Hart, a BLM spokesman in the Richfield district office.
"And then on the door they had - the first part of it was `Para Bellum.' " The phrase is Latin for, "Resembling war."
"And then right below it was `Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here.' " That is a misquote from Dante's "Inferno," inscribed on the gate of hell.
Other stencils on the sidewalk said: "Our land. Meet thy doom with an earth-shattering boom" and "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, pinky commie BLMers" and "The freedom that we've enjoyed for 2,000 years can't be taken by a bunch of queers."
A final message said, "This is no threat. This is a promise," and it was signed by the "Reactionary League for Freedom."
The stencils were elaborate, Hart said. "On the vehicles it was the red paint again. Stencils with a swastika on the hood and a hammer and sickle on both doors, and they did that to seven vehicles."
Every vehicle was hit. They "were in a locked enclosure. They cut the chain or the lock and took it, and just went in and did their things," he said.
BLM Hanksville area manager Sheldon Wimmer said, "They do have some evidence that was left by the individuals. There're excellent footprints."
That same week, somebody vandalized a new water project at Granite Well, near where the cattle were shot, eight to 10 miles south of Hanksville. "They broke the float valve off so it would drain the pipeline out, and it did."
In addition, Wimmer said, "There was about a quarter-mile of fence that was jacked out here," he said. "The permittees had been putting this fence in . . . someone came in with the jack and jacked out the fence posts."
Fencing had not yet been strung between the posts, which were placed every 16 feet for a quarter-mile. The posts were left on the ground. The vandalism was discovered Tuesday.