Mysterious monolith in Utah was illegally installed on public lands, officials say

National News

This Nov. 18, 2020 photo provided by the Utah Department of Public Safety shows a metal monolith installed in the ground in a remote area of red rock in Utah. The smooth, tall structure was found during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday. State workers from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air and landed nearby to check it out. The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued. (Utah Department of Public Safety via AP)

(FOX) — Officials say that the mysterious monolith in a remote Utah desert was illegally installed on public lands.

The monolith became a viral sensation after its recent discovery, sparking speculation about what it was and how it got here.

The Utah Bureau of Land Management has confirmed that the strange structure was removed by an unknown party.

During a site visit on Saturday, the Bureau of Land Management confirmed that an unknown person or group removed the illegally installed structure referred to as the “monolith” during the evening of Friday, Nov. 27.

“The BLM did not remove the structure, which had been recently discovered on public lands in the Monticello Field Office,” it said, in a statement. “Over the course of Thanksgiving week, a relatively large number of people visited the site, which has not been developed for heavy visitation.”

The monolith, which had been estimated to be between 10 feet and 12 feet high and thought to be some kind of metal, was discovered by state wildlife employees while they were counting sheep from a helicopter. The structure sparked comparisons with a similar-looking slab in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.’

The monolith’s “disappearance” maintained the air of mystery that has surrounded the structure.

Despite attempts to keep the mysterious object’s location secret, reports soon emerged of people visiting the site.

“We recognize the incredible interest the ‘monolith’ has generated world-wide. Many people have been enjoying the mystery and view it as a welcome distraction from the 2020 news cycle,” said Monticello Field Manager Amber Denton Johnson, in the statement. “Even so, it was installed without authorization on public lands and the site is in a remote area without services for the large number of people who now want to see it. Whenever you visit public lands please follow Leave No Trace principles and Federal and local laws and guidance.”

Officials said that visitors who flocked to the site parked on vegetation and left behind human waste, noting that the undeveloped area does not have restrooms or a parking lot.

Fox 13 reports that the monolith, which was discovered in the southern Utah desert, is believed by many to be a work of abstract art.

Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this article.

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