ST. GEORGE — Zion National Park Ranger Colton Johnston said that the park is seeing an increase in various types of vandalism, as rangers carefully scraped away graffiti using sandpaper.
“A very small number of visitors do things that diminish Zion National Park’s natural beauty. We want you to understand the ways they hurt the park so that you recognize and can help stop when it’s happening,” Johnston said. “We also want you to understand how the National Park Service rehabilitates damaged areas so that you can enjoy them again.”
Johnston said rangers and volunteers are spending many hours trying to restore places marred by graffiti, rock carvings and scratches, stickers, permanent markers, and spray paint. It can often to up to 35 hours to clean up an area.
“Vandalism like this not only greatly impacts the visitor experience in the park, but it is also extremely difficult to remove,” Johnston said. “This piece covered 150 square feet and took 35 hours of work. It took seven rangers and volunteers that had to be taken from their regularly scheduled duties in order to help with the repair.”
Graffiti ruins Zion National Park’s character and damages its natural and cultural resources. Johnston said visitors need to leave plants, rocks, artifacts and other objects alone so that people may enjoy them in the future. Over five million people visited Zion last year.
The Zion Forever Project, the park’s non-profit partner, also supports the dedicated team of rangers, trail crew, and staff, said Mark Preiss, the vice president of the project.
“They work tirelessly to conserve this resource. We strive, through our outreach, to spread the important message of stewardship in these cherished public lands. It’s going to take all of us working together, and that is at the core of our mission,” Preiss said.
Zion National Park rangers suggest instead of vandalism, visitors can take a photo, write a letter or postcard, draw a picture, and share their experience on social media.
Visitors: Leave No Trace Behind by following these tips
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Protect vegetation and fragile cryptobiotic soils by staying on established trails.
- Dispose of waste properly: Carry out all trash, including food wrappers, fruit peels, and nut shells. Dispose of waste in a proper trash can or dumpster.
- Leave what you find: Leave the park in a natural state for others to enjoy. Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.
- Minimize campfire impacts: When permitted, fires are only allowed in established fire rings in the campgrounds.
- Respect wildlife: Zion is home to many wild animals. Help keep them wild and healthy by viewing them from a safe distance.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Let the natural sounds of Zion prevail. Use headphones when listening to music and avoid using loud voices.
Johnston said that vandals who harm the park might be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by six months in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
“We need your help to make sure visitors can enjoy Zion today and forever,” Johnston said. “Do your part in protecting national parks for future generations by leaving no trace. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.”
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