Monday, 15 April 2013

Joshua Tree closure: Graffiti forces closure of numerous park hiking spots

Joshua Tree closure: Graffiti forces closure of numerous park hiking spots, It is a sad day when the words "Joshua Tree closure" start trending, and then you realize the reason why. An Associated Press report from Saturday, April 13, 2013, states that acts of graffiti and vandalism have become so pervasive that Joshua Tree National Park has had to close many popular hiking spots to the public.

Believe it or not, park officials actually blame the giant leap in vandalism acts on social media.

View slideshow: Graffiti and vandalism has forced Joshua Tree National Park to make some closures
Rangers have found graffiti spray painted on 17 different sites, and that includes the famous rock formations and historic Native American sites. The South California park's Rattlesnake Canyon has been a big time location for graffiti.

The historic Barker Damn was made off limits after vandals carved their names into the Old West landmark's cement.

Officials of National Parks said that the graffiti started with a few markings here and there, but quickly spread to more and then Joshua Park closures. The belief and blame goes to vandals that post pictures of their desecration on social media sites like Facebook.

With that, others see the pictures and try to one-up the other.

"I've worked at six national parks, and this is the most extensive I've seen in 20 years," ranger Pat Pilcher told reporters this week during a tour of some of the damage.

For those that visit Joshua Tree and cherish the isolation, history, and much more brought about, the graffiti is an unwelcome reminder of the big city.

"You kind of feel like you're alone. In ancient times. There's nothing like this place," Butch Wood, 51, a visitor from North Aurora, Ill. Told the Los Angeles Times. "You don't like to see the modern world intruding on history. It's a shame."

An investigation is ongoing in the cases of vandalism. If anyone is caught and convicted committing vandalism, they could face up to six months in jail and $5,000 in fines. For those convicted of defacing a historic Native American site, the penalties could be harsher.

Officials are closing 308 acres of the canyon until April 30, 2013, while Urban School of San Francisco volunteers help scrub off the graffiti from the giant boulders.

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