The Hoodoos are one of the areas top attractions, and were dedicated a Historic Site in 2001. While reports say that upwards of 75,000 people visit them each year, Andrew Neuman, director of the Royal Tyrrell Museum says they do not want to see them loved to death.
“What we would like to do is put a little barrier around so responsible people could see not to go in there, rather than invite them to go in, because they are loving them to death,” said Neuman. “But at the same, time offer people some good viewing platforms, some good photo ops, and the opportunity to actually see them and appreciate them, along with some interpretive signage, to give them a value added experience.”
He says the museum has been working on some ideas to protect the site for a few years, and recently asked for a request for proposals for some engineering work to see what could be done to protect the site. He says the Tyrrell and The Town of Drumheller have stationed staff at the Hoodoos to gather data, offer educational experience and help protect the site. Three years ago, they erected signs, to pull visitors away from direct contact with the Hoodoos.
“Now we are looking at potentially developing a modified pathway to pull people away from the physical Hoodoos themselves. What we are doing right now is hoping to advance some of the engineering to see what is feasible, and depending on how that goes, we would hope to do some construction this year,” he says. “However due to the funding constraints in government, we are not terribly confident we will be able to proceed this year, but we are hopeful.”
He says currently they have no budget in place for the project and the opportunity is currently posted at Alberta Purchasing Connection with a deadline for proposals of August 21, 2009.
“We don’t have any idea what it might cost. That is why we put the request for proposals out there to see what companies, with the right kind of expertise, could tell us how we could do this,” he said.
He says the degradation of the Hoodoos has been steady.
“One of the worst things is the rock pathway right through the Hoodoos because that attracts people. Every single person walks within one metre of the Hoodoos, and it is almost impossible to keep them from touching them—hugging them so to speak,” he said.
He adds there are also some health and safety issues.
“That trail is not developed in any way, so on a wet day it is quite dangerous. We would still like to give people the opportunity on a rainy day for a safe hike to a reasonable viewing spot,” he said.
Tom Dooley drives by the Hoodoos on a daily basis, and once owned the grazing lease on which the pillars stand. He says it is a positive move for the Tyrrell to explore more protection for the Hoodoos.
“From my view and the view of Alberta’s heritage, it is important,” says Dooley.
He has confidence in the Tyrrell’s ability to take measures to stop the degradation of the Hoodoos.
The bottom line for Dooley,” there’s no fixing a Hoodoo.”