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BLM reacts to hiker deaths at The Wave

BLM reacts to hiker deaths at The Wave

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — 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.

"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 plans to post a new trailhead sign, step up warnings on a BLM website, show an online safety video at the Kanab Visitor Center and translate safety brochures for foreign visitors — many from Germany, France, Japan and China.


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.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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