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Vandalism at National Parks Rising

Vandalism at National Parks Rising
September 15
10:05 2015

Vandalism in western national parks is on the rise.

Natural features – such as rock faces and trees – are being defaced on an astounding level. More than 600 incidents have been reported since 2013.


David Smith

The hardest hit areas are those located near large urban centers – for example, Lake Mead National Recreational Area, which is 39 miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

Joshua Tree, about two-and-a-half hours east of Los Angeles had to shut down portions of its historic Barker Dam in 2013. Soon after that it had to close Rattlesnake Canyon, too.

The vandalism runs the gamut from gang signs to “high school” graffiti – i.e. Timmy loves Betsy artwork.

Earlier this year, hikers found a bright blue giraffe painted on a boulder. So far, in 2015, there have been 150 incidents in the Pacific West and Intermountain West regions. Such vandalism is difficult to undo.

Workers can scrape off paint with spatulas or use chemical treatments, provided they won’t damage archaeological features.

People have a desire to “leave a permanent mark,” according to Joshua Tree Superintendant David Smith.

“But, the difference between prehistoric times and now, is we have other mechanisms to leave a permanent record without defacing or destroying something that belongs to every American,” Smith added.



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