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‘There is miles of graffiti’: Zion, Dixie Forest rangers report vandalism

A rash of graffiti and vandalism has been reported at national parks and other recreation areas in Utah. (PHOTO: Zion National Park, courtesy of KSL TV's Sean Moody.)

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A rash of graffiti and vandalism has been reported at national parks and other recreation areas in Utah. 

On the lookout for vandalism

Park rangers say beyond their normal job duties and additional COVID-19 safety enforcement, they’ve been forced to keep a sharp lookout for vandals.

“I have seen more graffiti than I have ever seen before,” says Zion National Park chief ranger Daniel Fagergren. “It’s all over, and we’re trying to get ahead of it.”

He says at Zion, words are being scratched onto the walls along the popular Narrows hike. Additionally, spray paint graffiti is also popping up along the West Rim and Angel’s Landing.
According to Fagergren, one reason behind the problem may be who exactly is visiting the park. He says the coronavirus pandemic has drawn thousands of first-time visitors who may not be well versed in public land etiquette.
“They are different visitors than we normally get,” he explains.
Whether it’s rookies or seasoned veterans responsible, the carnage left behind is easy to spot for anyone venturing on the Narrows hike.

A potential price to pay

“There is miles of graffiti all the way up this amazing hike,” says Narrows guide Sunny Bodeen. “Graffiti is contagious and so is education, help educate people, be kind and leave no trace.”
Officials at Zion say if a vandal is caught, they could potentially face a mandatory court appearance, up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
“We take this very seriously,” says Fagergren. “It’s just becoming awful.”
Meanwhile, Dixie National Forest is reporting a similar problem.

They’ve found graffiti along the Hell’s Backbone bridge. Local law enforcement believes the incident took place on September 19, 2020. 

The Bureau of Land Management also warns against trying to remove graffiti or vandalism yourself saying that it could cause more damage.

“Please do not attempt to remove it yourself,” the BLM wrote on Facebook.

“In many cases, graffiti near ancient petroglyphs or pictographs is very difficult to remove and requires specialized training to avoid further damage to the site.”

They say in many cases removal needs to be done by restoration experts in order to minimize any more damage to be done to the area. 

“Well intentioned people who attempt to remove graffiti can cause permanent damage to cultural and archeological sites, and removing graffiti yourself is tampering with a crime scene that can hamper an investigation.”

3. LET US Remove It.

If you find graffiti on BLM lands, please do not attempt to remove it yourself. In many cases,…

Posted by Bureau of Land Management – Utah on Friday, August 14, 2020

They’re asking anyone with information to please come forward so they can hopefully identify those responsible.