Some object to sealing Nutty Putty Cave
December 1st, 2009 @ 7:30am
By Mary Richards
UTAH COUNTY -- Officials say the decision to seal off Nutty Putty Cave forever was unanimous after a man died there last week, but there have been hundreds of complaints, including from David Arnold, a member of the Timpanogos Grotto.
"There's a lot of us that really love caving," he said. "Back in 2004, 2005 the Grotto did studies on how many people were going to the cave annually. And it's estimated there are 5,000 people a year that visit Nutty Putty Cave."
Arnold spoke with KSL Newsradio's Nightside. He said the decision may be one that people regret in the future. "The thing that concerns me is the decision to close the cave happened very quickly, with no public comment, no public hearings," he said.
"My concern is the cave is closed in a permanent fashion in a highly emotional state; we may regret that in 10 years. My main point is, let's just slow down a little bit," he said.
Arnold said if someone dies on a ski slope or hiking trail, those areas are not sealed off forever. "I guess the parental instinct in all of us to protect people is somehow we have to close this. I think caves are easier to close than a ski slope," he said.
"There's something about a cave, I don't know if they terrify us, but there's something about them so we set them apart and make them different. I don't know what that is," he added.
Officials announced the cave would be closed late last week after 26-year-old John Jones became trapped and died. It will be his final resting place.
According to the Deseret News, Michael Leavitt -- who managed access to the cave -- said Monday, "The decision was unilateral to close it. There is no backtracking or retreat."
Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the cave poses a danger, plus it now is considered a sacred site for the Jones family.
A deputy now stands watch at the entrance. Officials are talking about the best way to seal it for good, possibly with concrete or some kind of bulldozed material. It most likely will happen in the next two to three weeks.