SPRINGDALE, Washington County — A vandalism case at Zion National Park has park rangers puzzled.
Park officials are seeking the public’s help in identifying who painted six blue squares on sandstone features within a northwest section of the park discovered earlier this month before the paint was mysteriously mostly cleaned up.
The painted squares, which were about 3-feet-by-3-feet in some cases, were discovered in the sandstone at Kolob Terrace about 1 mile south of the Wildcat Trailhead on the morning of July 8. The paint was still wet when it was first discovered and may have been painted a day or two before the discovery, Zion National Park spokesperson Jeff Axel told KSL.com Friday.
“They put on quite a few coats of the paint. It was really thick and it was there for several days,” he said. “They got paint on bushes, I guess, and there was paint all over the ground, too.”
Park rangers planned to set up cameras to see if the vandal would return; when they went back to the site a few days later, they found that about 95% of the paint was already cleaned up.
“Somebody had peeled it off and it was gone but they did leave pieces of the blue paint around, so it’s not entirely cleaned up,” Axel added.
The entire incident is a mystery. Park rangers visited with people in Springdale’s art scene to see if the paint was some sort of illegal art project, as well as people in other industries in the area to see if it was done as a test for painting in masonry, mold, texture or metalwork.
One theory is it was someone who wanted to know how the texture of the paint would go on sandstone. Regardless of the reason, graffiti and other forms of vandalism in national parks are illegal, Axel explained.
Vandalism on public land has been an issue on public lands across Utah the past few years, including Zion National Park. State archeologists announced plans for a new campaign to bring awareness to vandalism on public lands earlier this year.
Zion officials say repairs to natural land features can be costly, time-consuming and not all land features can be restored to their natural state. Anyone with information about the Kolob Terrace vandalism case is encouraged to contact park rangers at 888-653-0009.