[Photo: Grand County EMS Facebook page]

For the eighth year running, BASE jumpers held a fundraiser in Moab, known as Turkey Boogie, over the Thanksgiving weekend. Usually the event involves an in-person celebration held at the Gravel Pit Lanes Bowling Alley in Moab, where prizes donated by BASE jumping gear companies are raffled off, and funds from raffle ticket sales are donated to local Search and Rescue groups and nonprofits. To mitigate COVID-19 risks, this year’s raffle was livestreamed instead.

“It still went really well. We still raised plenty of money,” said event organizer Taz Sorg.

The event raised about $13,000, which will be donated to Grand County SAR, Grand County Emergency Medical Services, Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center, Community Rebuilds, the Moab Free Health Clinic, the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, Grand Area Mentoring, the Youth Garden Project, and the KZMU community radio station. Some money will also be given to the Moab Office of the Bureau of Land Management.

In a Nov. 28 Facebook post, Grand County SAR thanked BASE jumpers for the donation, noting that the money is used to purchase equipment and provide member training.

“This year’s donation follows many years of similar donations,” the post said.

Grand County SAR is one of the busiest search and rescue crews in Utah, responding to incidents including BASE jumping accidents, including one on Nov. 23 in which a man struck a cliff when making a jump in Kane Creek Canyon and injured his pelvis. Five days later, SAR personnel recovered the body of a man who was killed near Mineral Point while “speed flying,” another extreme sport involving jumping from cliffs.

In addition to raising money for local organizations, the Turkey Boogie is also an opportunity to educate new BASE jumpers about safety, regulations and Leave No Trace ethics. Taz noted that the sport is growing, and participants can’t just rely on word of mouth to impart these messages. She said she hopes to broaden the Turkey Boogie to include a website that has ongoing safety and stewardship messages.

“Instead of communicating the information once a year, it can be out there all the time,” she said.

She is also thinking about creating an optional program similar to one in Switzerland, in which BASE jumpers purchase a “landing card” to get authorization to jump in a particular location. Funds from the landing cards go towards access to jump points. Taz envisions funds raised through a similar program in Moab could go towards access, SAR groups, or site improvements.

Jennifer Jones is the recreation planner for the Moab BLM Field Office, and she has worked with organizers of the Turkey Boogie for several years. She said that this year, BLM officials visited with BASE jumpers in the Moab area throughout the long Thanksgiving weekend, handing out bags designed for the disposal of human waste.

“We also discussed the need to keep all vehicles on designated roads and not travel off road,” Jones said. “For those that were camping, we chatted about the importance of bringing firewood to the desert.”

These messages echo Leave No Trace ethics that have been emphasized at each annual Turkey Boogie since the event began.

“The event was successful and the organizers did a great job with the livestreamed raffle,” Jones said. “BLM appreciates the donation from the event and their continued support of BLM, Grand County EMS and SAR.” She also offered condolences on behalf of the BLM to those affected by the fatality and by the Kane Creek Canyon BASE jumping accident last week.