The Arizona Republic reported that a one-ton boulder, known as Wizard Rock, mysteriously disappeared from its location approximately 2 weeks ago.
Officials from Prescott National Forest said it would take very heavy machinery to remove this boulder from its location due to its size and weight. Jason Williams, Trails and Wilderness Manager at the park told the Republic that you could move it if you had a backhoe.
He added that a Bobcat could be used if the trailer was positioned just right and you didn't mind if things were harmed along the way.
Williams suggested that the boulder could have been removed in broad daylight because anyone passing by would not think they were trying to steal the boulder instead they would be seen as workers of the park just moving it.
The general public would think somebody working with large equipment in the forest would assume it's authorized. It would appear they were professionals doing something that was authorized by the forest service and probably even paid for doing so.
Wizard Rock was a well-known landmark to many people as they drove by along State Route 89 and a very popular place for people to visit and take photos with the rock. Wizard Rock has streaks of white quartz running through it which makes it very distinctive.
Debbie Maneely, spokesperson for Prescott National Forest, told Newsweek the boulder had been reported to the trails and wilderness program by a member of the public that appreciated this unique boulder for many years.
Since that time, various media stories have popped up and the park has gotten unconfirmed reports on social media claiming the boulder may have been taken 1 to 2 months before ever being reported as missing.
Maneely said that the disappearance of this unique boulder only shows that there are so many interesting and unique things all around us in the national forests and, as humans, we often do not take the time to appreciate the value of these wonderful items until it's too late and they are gone.
Park officials are urging anyone who has information regarding the disappearance of Wizard Rock to call 928-443-8110. Removing items and minerals from National Forest lands without a permit is illegal. Anyone caught doing so, can be fined up to $5,000 or sentenced to six months in jail or both.
It's disappointing and unfortunate when national forests lose such precious items like this boulder. Their hope is that it will be returned to them and these recent occurrences will become an educational opportunity to learn from, not just walk off with.
These boulders belong to the public and should be enjoyed by locals as well as visitors for many years to come. If anyone has any questions regarding what they can take or purchase from the Prescott Nation Forest or how to get legal authorization to do so, they should contact any of the park's offices for more information.
This is not the first time in recent months that boulders have been removed from Prescott National Forest. Over the past 4 months, there have been 2 different incidents where boulders weighing between 750 to 2,000 pounds have been taken using heavy equipment.
Maneely said when boulders have unique features such as their coloring or if their shape looks like an animal or, in this case, something dark and magical, people will take them for yard decoration.
Why people go through this is not really known. These heavy rocks are used by the U.S. Forest Service to create barriers, define parking areas, and build large retaining walls.
Prescott National Forest runs along 1.25 million acres across north-central Arizona, encompassing a variety of environments from deserts to mountains. We just hope the boulder will be found and brought back to its rightful place!
Good News Update: The Rock is Back!