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One of my favorite places to explore photographically are the fragile mancos shale badlands in central Utah in the USA. I usually spend several weeks there every year in late fall, hiking and exploring to take advantage of cooler weather and colorful fall foliage.
I have photographed in this region for decades and whenever I see this iconic landmark named Factory Butte in the distance I feel a bit like I am coming home. This image was made from my campsite which I chose specifically for this image because I wanted to catch the first rays of the sun as it started to light up Factory Butte. The entire region around here is vast and filled with mesas and canyons so no matter how often I explore, I always am finding something new to aim my camera at.
However recently I have noticed something new that is very upsetting. There were many new tracks from many ORV’s that were not there when last I was here. It is public BLM land and they had always prohibited wheeled travel because this land is so fragile and tracks last for decades and totally change the erosion and drainage patterns. This environmental damage is especially apparent from the perspective of my drone. It turns out that the BLM has lifted their prohibitions and opened this up to ORV recreation despite the drastic environmental detriment that comes along with this policy change. We photographers have always had a mantra of leaving no trace so I was not a happy person when I discovered this!
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor