Little Green Men Caught in Red Tape

When a metal monolith was discovered in the desert, all federal officials could see was a zoning violation.


A metal monolith discovered this year in the Utah desert looks like something straight out of Star Trek's neutral zone, but all federal officials could see was a zoning violation.

In November, members of the Utah Department of Public Safety's Aero Bureau came across the alien-looking structure in a remote southeast portion of the state while performing a count of bighorn sheep. Who, or what, might have placed the 12-foot structure in the desert is a mystery. What's not up for debate is the monolith's legal status.

"The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would like to remind public land visitors that using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorization is illegal, no matter what planet you are from," the Utah branch of BLM declared in a press release.

Within days of the public announcement of its discovery, the monolith had disappeared. Do aliens fear federal fines and sanctions? Or were terrestrial parties frightened into compliance?

Let's hope it's the latter. Short of annihilating ourselves, nothing poses a graver threat to Earth's reputation in the galaxy than exposing off-planet visitors to the onerous restrictions and red tape we place on the development of federal lands.