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Idaho man fined, banned from public land for defacing Corona Arch in southeastern Utah

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - Aug. 24, 2018 at 5:39 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — An Idaho man who scratched graffiti into Corona Arch and then posed for a picture with his family has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Ryan Bird Andersen, 45, of Idaho Falls, admitted to one misdemeanor count of defacing a natural feature. As a part of a plea deal, Andersen agreed to pay the maximum $1,000 fine and restitution totaling $858.32 to the Bureau of Land Management.

Andersen etched "18" and "R" and "J" as well as a heart in the arch near Moab and then stood next to it for a photo with his family.

Andersen also agreed to release a statement advocating the responsible use of public lands as a part of his guilty plea.

"Although I have resolved my case with the government, I will remain committed to helping ensure that our public lands remain pristine," he wrote. "In the future, I hope that others can learn from my mistakes and always act responsibly with our natural treasures."

U.S. Attorney John Huber called Andersen's actions "troubling."

"People travel from around the world to visit these spectacular resources. Mr. Andersen learned a valuable lesson from this prosecution," he said in a statement.

The government will hold Andersen's guilty plea in abeyance for 18 months. During that time, he is prohibited from entering or using public lands managed by the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers.

Andersen may use public roads traversing public lands for necessary travel.

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