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GOSHEN, Utah County — The old Tintic Mill area has become a well-known place where people believe they can legally paint graffiti. But the remnants of an old mining operation has officials calling the state-owned property unsafe.
And it has been off limits for 15 years.
A no trespassing sign has only been in place a few days and already it has been vandalized. Local police said they intend to enforce the order to keep the public off of this public land.
“There's no real rhyme or reason as to why they do it,” said Santaquin Police Cpl. Mike Wall.
But near Warm Springs, people seem to find something to tag, everywhere you look, especially the old Tintic Mill, which hasn't been in operation for nearly 100 years.
“People, I think, just aren’t aware,” Wall said. “We have people who come from all over the state who come see this. They see it online and the posts online don’t mention the fact that it is trespassing and it is illegal to be out here.”
But it is not just the safety hazards from the mine or heavy metals that has made this area problematic for police.
“We get a lot of underage drinking,” Wall said. “We get a lot of drug use, we get a lot of criminal mischief, which they call tagging, spray painting the rocks and the mill.”
The Division of Wildlife Resources has posted new signs and added a barbed wire fence to help make it clear, the wildlife management area is closed.
“We try to keep people out of there, but people keep tearing our signs down,” said Scott Root of the Division of Wildlife Resources.
“We were deeded this property in 1986,” Root said. “In 2002, we had testing done and the levels of arsenic and lead were high, so we immediately closed it to the public.”
A locked gate and signs may have discouraged some people, but in the social media era, photos and video of the springs and the old mill help to attract people who see it and think it's a great place to go exploring.
“It just wouldn’t be a healthy environment to recreate in with the water and the soil, so we ask the public to stay out of the area,” Root said.
Local police vow to do what it takes to keep people out.
“It is a big deal to us, and we wish that people would respect the fact that we don't want them out here,” Wall said.
Police say anyone caught trespassing in the area could face a class B misdemeanor, which carries a substantial fine. Email: email@example.com