Updated Aug 8, 2013 - 11:05 am
Feds to stress safety to hikers after deaths at Arizona-Utah border
SALT LAKE CITY -- Federal land managers are stepping up warnings to reduce the death toll at The Wave, a hiking destination on the Utah-Arizona border that requires survival and navigation skills.
In July, three hikers with lottery permits to visit The Wave succumbed to brutal summer heat and disorienting open country.
The Wave is a richly patterned swirl of sandstone. The 3-mile hike starts in Utah before reaching the formation in Arizona.
"We're putting a greater re-emphasis on safety," said Rachel Tueller, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Arizona Strip district.
The agency planned to post a new trailhead sign, step up warnings on a BLM website, share a safety video with the Kanab Visitor Center and translate safety brochures for foreign visitors.
Officials already give a safety orientation at the Kanab Visitor Center, where they dole out 10 hiking permits to walk-ins on a daily basis. The BLM uses an online lottery to award 10 other daily permits.
Tueller said the BLM management team was considering a wider range of other steps the agency might take to ensure hiker safety at the remote location, which has spotty cellphone coverage.
A maker of a signal booster has offered to donate a transmitter that could be installed on a ranger station, providing better coverage.
Tueller said the BLM has yet to accept the offer from Sanford, Mich.-based Cellular Solutions. The agency has tried to preserve a sense of wilderness at the location -- the reason it leaves the cross-country route to The Wave unmarked. The BLM gives hikers pictures of landmarks to guide themselves along the way.
The BLM's main emphasis is getting people to think harder about whether the hike is something they can handle, Tueller said.