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377 Defacing 2011-04-15

Newspaper rock in Utah

Newspaper Rock, example of a petroglyph

Last June, a man was on a guided fishing trip on the Colorado River. During a rest break he decided to add his name to some carvings on a rock wall. The only problem was that the other drawings on the wall were made over 1000 years ago. "Trent" was not a welcome addition to the petroglyph panels.

A ranger passed by the wall and saw the new addition. The rangers found Trent and he confessed to the damage. He apologized to everyone but the damage was already done.

Poor Trent was found guilty. He was sentenced to a long probation, community service, and a $10,000 fine. The overall incident probably cost him even more in terms of his reputation.

Was the penalty too stiff for the crime? Perhaps the stiff penalties made Trent the sacrificial example. The wall was known as the Descending Sheep Panel. It was a very important petroglyph to the Native Americans of Arizona. So perhaps the penalties were not even strong enough.

Outdoor adventurers visiting the southwest will begin to cite Trent's penalties as proof to the seriousness of the incident. As Judas is known as the betrayer, now Trent will be known as the defacer!

We hope that Trent has learned his lesson and will tell his story to all who will listen. And, that the Park can somehow remove "Trent" from the wall. Now if we can just find a way for the consequences of defacing to extend to others, maybe we could get those initial -carvers to leave the poor trees alone!

Prevention of such incidents is through education. Trent admits he would probably have never carved his name on that rock had he understood the damage he was doing. Boy and Girl Scouts, Junior Ranger Programs and the likes promote environmental education and sustainable use.

(NPS Incident Report)


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