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Iconic Utah arch could soon close to rope swinging

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm •  Published: June 11, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — One of southern Utah's signature towering arches could soon be closed to rope-swinging and other daredevil activities.

Federal officials are considering outlawing the swinging made so popular on YouTube that state authorities banned it from commercial outfitters last year. They cite frustration from Corona Arch visitors who have said they came to marvel at a natural wonder, not an extreme-sports arena.

The swinging stunt involves taking a running leap and swinging like a pendulum through five-story structures.

"Do we look down on folks who do this activity? No, of course not," said Rock Smith, supervisory outdoor recreation planner at the federal Bureau of Land Management in Moab. "It's a matter of is it appropriate or not" on lands designated for hiking. "The other side is: We know people like to swing, and we're not stopping that everywhere, either."

About 40,000 hikers trek to the sandstone structure each year, and many see it just once, federal officials estimate. Many complain about daredevil howls piercing the desert air.

The plans come amid a recent change in ownership. Last month, the agency gained control of the area in a land swap that gave the state rights to oil-rich lands in eastern Utah.

A sign at the trailhead to the 100-foot arch tells thrill-seekers that they may swing at their own peril, surrounded by "sheer drops all around," reported the Salt Lake Tribune. It continues: "There is high potential for serious injury or death even if your equipment works."

The agency is considering similar policies at the smaller Bowtie Arch and on 10 acres surrounding nearby Gemini Bridges. They would bar activities there such as rappelling, zip-lining, slack-lining and high-lining, which includes balancing on a taut rope.

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