We have previously discussed the increasing appearance of graffiti in our national and state parks. As is well known on his blog, hiking is my passion and there is nothing more crushing than to see juvenile carvings and writings on trees and rocks in parks. One of the most disturbing are the carvings in the iconic and ancient rock formations at the Arches National Park in Utah. Some disgraceful individuals decided to deface the rock face that millions have enjoyed for decades. That damage is now viewed as likely irreparable.
Park rangers are reporting increasing graffiti. The most recent incident occurred on April 15th at the Frame Arch, where the words “Staten” and “Andersen” were carved deeply into the famed rock formation. Rangers try to use brushes and water to remove such words but each act degrades the face further and some are viewed as irreversible. The problem is that it is impossible in many areas to increase surveillance without destroying the natural beauty of the area as well as obvious logistical problems. The act itself can bring a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
I have long argued that we need to increase those penalties to the level of a serious felony — as would we destroying or defacing a great piece of art in a museum. There is a long-standing theory that deterrence is a balance of the size of the penalty and the rate of detection. As detection rates fell, penalties are increased to maintain the level of deterrence. Since these are often remote areas, detection is very low. We also need to create units that can target areas of graffiti with special cameras and surveillance to catch and then guarantee prosecution of such individuals. This should include a campaign to enlist hikers to take pictures of people defacing natural areas and sending those pictures to rangers. The Park Service needs to place advertisements on these efforts in leading hiking magazines.
While graffiti demeans historic buildings and areas, it destroys the essential qualities of natural settings. Many of us go to national and state parks to be absorbed in such natural beauty and bask in glory of untouched forests, soaring rock faces, and other sights. Graffiti artists cannot enjoy such scenes without putting their juvenile marks on trees or rocks — ruining not just the experience for others but ruining our national treasures. That is why we need a new national campaign to find and prosecute these individuals — a campaign that enlists all of us who love our parks and natural wonders.
14 thoughts on “The Frame Arch Becomes Latest Victim of Graffiti In Our Federal and State Parks”
J: The fact that Chicago, among many other places on the planet, bears the defacing imprint of mankind is what makes our national parks and wilderness areas so special. That is why the Republican scheme to give these places to their corporate rulers is evil.
I think the entire city of Chicago is one giant network of litter, but go ahead and whine that some rock face got a lil scarred by some monkeys.
This makes me so upset. Yes, humans naturally like to leave their mark, which is how we have pictographs, cave paintings, carvings, and other archeological finds. But we of modern society should know better than to deface natural landmarks. You can mark up rocks and logs in your own backyard to be memorialized.
We just returned from Sequoia, where many of the oldest trees were defaced. Some of the oldest logs and even boulders were completely covered in carved graffiti. Now they have fences around the named trees to try to keep the idiots away.
And may I add that this is an apropos discussion for those who believe that jail should not be about punishment, or that nonviolent offenders should not be charged (I’m talking about you, CA). There are some who want us to be like Norway, and create spas and reform centers instead of jails. Give these vandals a paintbrush because they just need an outlet. This incident underlines the need for sharp penalties to act as a deterrent.
The beautiful thing is that given enough time, it will erode away like everything else. Unguided geological self-correction.
These vandals must be Republicans. This type of behavior is typical for Republicans.
Really? You are concerned with this level of destruction, as compared to the damage done by US tanks, bombs, drones, and explosives around the world? Graffiti is hardly a speck of dust compared to the damage to natural and man-made treasures destroyed by US bombings across Europe and Japan in WWII and across the Middle East and North Africa more recently.
Arches National Park is a treasure. That entire region is some of the most pristine geography in this country, They need hidden surveillance cameras to catch these sh!tbirds.
Although the Romans did not invent graffiti they certainly perfected it. Roman soldiers left their mark whereever they went and it is still there. A Banksy graffiti painting starts at 100k. Indians have graffitied the sides of canyons all over the Southwest.
I am not going to get in a lather over this. It has been going on for 13000 years in the Southwest.
This is not merely an act of disobedience. This is an example of the direction our culture is moving. I’m guessing these two were so consumed with their own ego that a selfie was not going to be a permanent enough reminder of their own existence so they needed to take that next step and demonstrate to everyone that “they” had been there before them. Had they been caught in the act they would likely had looked at the authorities with that “what, it’s just a rock. And besides, this is public property.” sort of defiance common among today’s millennials.
They do have a point though that they probably aren’t aware of; why should law enforcement waste resources on them when we have our own elected officials destroying the very republic this public land is sitting on,
Always infuriating. The penalty should be to wear a cinderblock suit, with one’s name carved in, and then to take a ten-minute swim in ocean, unassisted.
Sounds about right.
I am so not in favor of what these people have done. Duh. But the humorous thing to me, if there is anything at least a bit funny about what these two-bit defacers have done, is that cave paintings must have been much the same. Oh sure, they are artistic, no doubt, and this defacement is not. But in either case you have humanity trying to scratch themselves into an enduring record. Sorry, does not equate to immortality, but thanks for trying, however mis-motivated.
The general principle or issue in this is that of violence. It takes nothing to be violent and destroy what it takes years or forever to make and build.
That is why the first thing in any civilization is to contain the violence.
[ how this is done is the work of libraries to work out… but the point is true and necessary to understand ]
Six months??? I’d give them at least 20 years.
There is an increasing disrespect for landmarks and private property by graffiti vandals. Someone once thought if only we called them “artists” it would control them but it didn’t. Graffiti now defaces not just rock formations but centuries old buildings in Europe. Some think nothing of defacing homes and threatening owners or residents when they object. They are not “artists” they are vandals.
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