On a post from last Tuesday, officials at Zion National Park posted on Facebook photos of a string of recent vandalism that has taken place at the park. In the caption, Zion National Park cites a recent increase in acts of vandalism like these and asks for people to stop harming these national sights, some of which have been around for millions of years. Recent attacks on the park include spray painting, mud handprints, the carving of names into wooden fences, logs, and rocks, and additional damage to rocks in the park.
Zion is not the only National Park facing these problems. Since coronavirus started back in March 2020, multiple other national parks and recreation areas have reported similar issues. In April, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania cited an over 600% increase in vandalism and illegal dumping, with 13 cases reported in April 2020 compared to only two the year before. Also, in April, the City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho reported multiple graffiti incidents on prehistoric pictographs and signatures. In September this year, graffiti along five miles of trail and illegal fires were reported in Acadia National Park. These examples are most likely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to incidents like these.
Thankfully, with modern technology and hard work by National Park Service workers, a lot of the damage can be fixed, although it can come at a high cost. Both the time it takes and the investment in methods of removal for graffiti and other vandalism cost a lot of money when those funds should be going to other conservation efforts in the park. In some cases, damage cannot be undone, like illegally started fires, or when names are carved into trees, such as in both Redwood and Sequoia National Parks.
If you go to any national park, unfortunately, the odds are you will find some form of vandalism, but the point to be especially concerned about is the increase in these activities recently. You can help by doing your part and making a pledge of stewardship on any National Park website before visiting. Park officials also always ask that if you may have any information about such acts of vandalism, to report them to their tip lines.
Regardless of where you are in nature, even outside of a national park, remember that the rule of thumb is to leave no trace. With that, we can all share and embrace what nature has to offer sustainably and respectfully.