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Graffiti a growing problem in Utah's national parks

By Devon Dolan | Posted - Nov. 18, 2014 at 10:32 p.m.


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ARCHES NATIONAL PARK— It takes only a matter of minutes to leave a mark on a national park; but to fully remove it takes years.

Park officials are trying to clean up graffiti spread throughout Arches National Park, but every time they make progress there’s more to be discovered. Unfortunately, it’s ruining the experience for children like Billy and Van Pollard.

In September 2013, the brothers visited the park for the fourth time.

“I thought it was really fun to climb on the rocks,” Van said.

But the park didn’t look like it did the previous times. The brothers said they ventured off to an unpopular area and were surprised to find dates and names etched into the rock.

“It was all over the walls; like, wherever you looked you would see graffiti,” Van said.

Jim Ireland, who is the Utah State Coordinator for National Parks, said it’s a huge problem.

“We have several hundred (vandalism sites), at least in Utah,” said Jim Ireland, Utah state coordinator for national parks.

According to Ireland, more than 2,000 cases of graffiti are reported across the country every year, and there are thousands more that no one ever hears about.

Around $300,000 is spent cleaning up the graffiti, and that's coming out of taxpayer dollars. But the rock is never fully restored.

“That desert varnish took thousands and thousands of years to form, so it will take thousands of years to heal,” said Ireland.

That part of Arches was shutdown. Park officials are still trying to figure out how they'll remove the graffiti.

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Devon Dolan

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