Officials in Oregon are considering what they should do in response to a video that appears to show a group of people knocking over a beloved rock formation.
The Duckbill, a famous stone pedestal at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon, has long been a favorite landmark for tourists to photograph. To the chagrin of the state parks department, the precarious-looking seven-foot-tall stone platform has also been a popular place to practice yoga poses or take wedding photos, even though the formation is fenced off from the public.
That local landmark collapsed last week. At first, parks officials thought it must have fallen over due to natural causes and the strain of people climbing on it. But they soon found out that the rock may have been pushed over—and there was a video that appeared to show this happening.
The footage was captured by David Kalas, who had been filming a drone video with his friend when he noticed a group of people seemingly trying to knock over the Duckbill. Kalas whipped out his cell phone just in time to film the collapse. Afterward, he confronted the group.
“I asked them, you know, why they knocked the rock down, and the reply I got was: Their buddy broke [his or her] leg earlier because of that rock,” Kalas told KATU News. “They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard, and that they did the world or Oregon a favor.” (Kalas has not yet responded to National Geographic for comment. No one in the video has been identified.)
Chris Havel, associate director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, says the area where the Duckbill collapsed has been blocked off with fences for decades because the sandstone is unstable, and therefore unsafe for tourists.
Yet “even though the fences and sign are very clear, the beauty of the area is a very powerful lure,” Havel says. “People regularly cross the fence, ignore the warning signs, and go where they shouldn’t. That is a continuing problem at the park.” In the past two years, there have been six deaths at Cape Kiwanda, though not on the Duckbill itself.
Havel says the parks department has been trying to look at what changes it can make to keep people out of Cape Kiwanda’s dangerous areas—such as new signs and fences and on-site staff members who can talk to visitors. The department is also working with the police to determine what can or should be done in response to the video.
Since the video went viral, people have begun sharing their photos of the rock on Instagram using the curious hashtag, #ripthatpnwrock. Many people have expressed sadness and outrage. Havel hopes the incident will also prompt reflection.
“Every person that set foot on that rock has worn it down a bit,” he says. Those people “may be outraged that somebody pushed the rock over … but likewise, every person who put their feet on that rock hastened its demise. And they should reflect on that the next time they want to go do something similar.
“The parks are there for everyone to enjoy,” Havel says. Visitors shouldn’t “do anything that reduces the enjoyment of the next person.”