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Updated Aug 8, 2013 - 11:06 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.

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