Vandalism a growing problem in Zion National Park

Vandalism a growing problem in national parks including in Utah (Photo: DJ Bolerjack / KUTV)

(KUTV) Vandalism is hitting our country's national parks hard, and it's keeping park rangers on their toes. That problem echoes all the way to Southern Utah.

Zion National Park officials said the problem is only getting worse with the record-breaking attendance.

Russell Cash, park ranger and archaeologist said only 20 percent of the park has been surveyed but he and a number of other crews in the park keep track of nearly 500 archaeological sites in the park.

One of the problem areas is the South Gate petroglyphs, right as visitors enter the park.

"Probably the saddest site in the whole entire park, right here," Cash said.

People carve and draw everything from their names to symbols in the stone, which surrounds the historic American Indian petroglyphs.

"We don't get this back. Once this has been graffitied, it's gone, it's gone forever."

Cash and his crew travel around the park on a weekly or bi-weekly basis cleaning this vandalism. He said it's been a constant frustration.

"It's on the of the most frustrating things for me in the entire world."

He said that when it comes to cleaning these damaged sites, they're only allowed to use waster, brushes and sometimes as a last resort, sandpaper.

In order to put a stop to this vandalism, signs, fences and even cacti have been put up as a preventative measure. Cash said video cameras and extra security have been part of that discussion, but there's not enough manpower to handle that at this point.

"We could catch people on camera but that doesn't give us a name."

Cash also he sends this message to visitors: "This is not graffiti, it's vandalism. It's wrong and it's against the law."

There are signs around the park saying under federal law, if you are caught vandalizing these historical sites you could be fined up to $250,000 or even see some jail time.

Follow D.J. Bolerjack on Twitter @DJBolerjack for breaking news, updates and more.

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