Working with Environmental Groups During Expansion

The Telescope Array Project was recently thanked in Redrock, the newsletter of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, for working with environmental groups to ensure the protection of the Southern Utah wilderness during the upcoming expansion to the array:

We’d like to extend our thanks to the University of Utah’s Department of Physics for working with us to address a number of concerns regarding impacts from its cosmic ray research site expansion in Utah’s West Desert.

Established in 2006, the research site is on public land near Delta, UT. The Telescope Array Cosmic Ray Project, as the university explains it, is a “multi-national experiment enabling the international astrophysics community . . . to better understand the nature and origin of cosmic rays” and in turn further our collective understanding of the universe. In simplified terms, the project uses a grid pattern of surface detectors to monitor ultra-high-energy cosmic rays as they pass through the atmosphere and reach the Earth’s surface. The expansion will quadruple the project’s scale and add 553 additional detectors. The BLM’s Fillmore field office recently approved the project.

Through meetings and a site visit with university research staff, we were able to reach an agreement that allows for an expansion of the existing array site and ensures protection of wilderness values. The agreement changes the location of certain detectors and communication towers and prohibits the cross-country use of ATVs to access detector locations in the Crater Bench proposed wilderness unit.

It’s always refreshing when a project proponent is willing to sit down and work through concerns. We’re happy to see the university expand its research facilities in a way that is sensitive to envi-ronmental impacts.

—Neal Clark