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Group said they removed monolith from Utah desert to protect public lands

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Sylvan Christensen, who has almost 30 thousand followers on TikTok and over 14,800 followers on Instagram, posted a video of the monolith in a wheelbarrow being carried away. The faces of the people removing the structure are blurred. (Photo: Screengrab from Instagram / Sylvanslacks){ }

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — After Utah's mysterious metal monolith disappeared from the desert – seemingly without a trace – one group is taking responsibility for removing it.

One of the individuals who helped remove the monolith announced on social media on Tuesday that he and his group were responsible for taking the monolith from the desert near Monticello on the night of Friday, Nov. 27.

Sylvan Christensen, who has almost 30,000 followers on TikTok and over 14,800 followers on Instagram, posted a video of the monolith in a wheelbarrow being carried away. The faces of the people removing the structure are blurred.

"Don't abandon your personal property on public land if you don't want it to be taken out. #utahmonolith #leavenotrace" Christensen wrote in the caption.

RELATED: TIMELINE: Utah's mystery monolith from discovery to disappearance

Christensen released the following statement to 2News about removing the monolith:

We removed the Utah Monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them. The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here— we are losing our public lands— things like this don’t help."

On Monday, 2News spoke with a Colorado man who said he saw the group taking the metal monolith, which has gained worldwide attention.

Even though the location was never officially released to the public, Ross Bernards said the coordinates ended up on Reddit, then Google Maps. Hundreds of people flocked to the area to see the otherworldly gleaming object. Bernards caught some of the monolith's final moments on Friday night. He said when one group left, four more people moved in and they started taking it down.

"As soon as it hit the ground, one of them said, 'this is why you don’t leave trash in the desert,'" he said. “As they were done putting everything in the wheelbarrow, they just said, 'leave no trace,' turned around, and wheeled it out of the canyon."

The monolith was discovered two weeks ago as members of the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources were counting big horn sheep.

The sheriff's office in San Juan County said it's not planning an investigation into the disappearance of the monolith. But authorities also said they would accept tips from any of the hundreds of visitors who trekked out to the desert. The Bureau of Land Management said it will not investigate because it's not part of their jurisdiction.

It's still a mystery as to how or who put the metal monolith there.

It's illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed public lands. DPS said that applies to everyone, "no matter what planet you're from."

Read Christensen's entire statement about removing the monolith here:

We removed the Utah Monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them. The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here— we are losing our public lands— things like this don’t help.

Let’s be clear: The dismantling of the Utah Monolith is tragic— and if you think we’re proud— we’re not. We’re disappointed. Furthermore, we were too late. We want to make clear that we support art and artists, but legality and ethics have defined standards-- especially here in the desert— and absolutely so in adventuring. The ethical failures of the artist for the 24” equilateral gouge in the sandstone from the erecting of the Utah Monolith, was not even close to the damage caused by the internet sensationalism and subsequent reaction from the world.

This land wasn’t physically prepared for the population shift (especially during a pandemic).

People arrived by car, by bus, by van, helicopter, planes, trains, motorcycles and E-bikes and there isn’t even a parking lot. There aren’t bathrooms— and yes, pooping in the desert is a misdemeanor. There was a lot of that. There are no marked trails, no trash cans, and its not a user group area. There are no designated camp sites. Each and every user on public land is supposed to be aware of the importance and relevance of this information and the laws associated with them. Because if you did, anyone going out there and filming the monolith and monetizing it without properly permitting the use of the land— would know that’s an offense too.

BLM currently has a huge job of managing millions of acres of land and millions of users using them. BLM already meets with so many active communities where we create and develop standards, usually learned from making mistakes. Leaders and business owners alike help designate user group areas that allow for certain uses of the public land in certain places. Some of them are permanent use like bike trails or jeep trails, some are semi-permanent like bolts and hangers. Some user group areas limit use like the Corona Arch Hiking user group area, that disallows roped activity, but allows hiking.

We encourage artists to create, land management to mange, and the community to take responsibility for their actions and property. What we need right now is a massive movement in the direction towards education of use and management of our lands— not a distraction from it.

Utah isn't the only place a monolith emerged. A similar metal structure was found on a hill in northern Romania, in the city of Piatra Neamt but has since disappeared.

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2News reporter Hayley Crombleholme contributed to this report.

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