Michael Fatali is one of the nation's premier large format landscape photographers, but he appears to have gone too far in attempting to create interesting lighting effects at Delicate Arch. The following is an article from Salt Lake City's KSL-TV. Any comments?
Fires At Delicate Arch
It's become the symbol of Utah. Delicate Arch, one of the state's most photographed and scenic wonders.
But now a prominent landscape photographer faces criminal charges for starting four fires at Delicate Arch, and marring the landscape.
Authorities have released little information about the investigation. But, Environment Specialist John Hollenhorst has learned exclusive details.
We've been told the fires were set during a photo workshop or a class at Delicate Arch. We haven't been able to get there to see the damage, and we haven't been able to reach photographer Mike Fatali to hear his story.
But he's accused of doing damage severe enough to be noticable in photos of Utah's most famous arch.
Four years ago we went on a photography expedition with Mike Fatali. He specializes in scrambling through Utah's rugged and spectacular canyon country to take pictures.
He runs a photograophy school near Zion National Park. His photos sell for high prices in his canyon-country photo shops.
On our expedtion four years ago, Fatali expressed strong love for the landscape.
MIKE FATALI/LANSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER/SEPT. 19, 1996: "I DO PHOTOGRAPHY AS A WAY TO COMMUNICATE THE PLACES THAT I LOVE. IT'S REALLY NOT ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO ME. IT'S THE EXPERIENCES OF EXPLORING AND BEING IN THIS ENVIRONMENT."
A month ago at Delicate Arch, Mike Fatali was allegedly leading a photo workshop or class. On the slickrock and sand below the arch, four fires were allegedly set.
It's not clear why, but one version of the story is that the fires were intended to create a special lighting effect.
A tourist reported one fire still smouldering the next day.
Flammable fuel apparently seeped deep into the slickrock and left three dark stains, which the Park Service has been unable to remove. The largest, we're told, is roughly 3 feet by 6, and shows up in photos of the arch.
We've been unable to reach Fatali for his side of the story. He's on a photo expedition... presumably somewhere in the landscape he's built his career on.
MIKE FATALI/LANSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER/SEPT. 19, 1996: "THIS IS GOD'S COUNTRY. IT DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THIS."
In the next couple of weeks, a rock-restoration expert will hike to the arch and assess the damages. After that, the U.S. Attorney intends to file criminal charges.
A spokeswoman says the government has a responsibility to protect resources and Delicate Arch is very near the top of the list of resources that ought to be p