Graffiti Etched Into Famed Rock Formation at Arches National Park Might Be Irreparable

PHOTO: The Frame Arch in the Arches National Park in Utah was vandalized with etchings of names into the rock formation. Staff at the park discovered the graffiti on April 15, 2016.Alice de Anguera/National Park Service
The Frame Arch in the Arches National Park in Utah was vandalized with etchings of names into the rock formation. Staff at the park discovered the graffiti on April 15, 2016.

Staffers at the Arches National Park in Utah are speaking out against the rise in graffiti after discovering one of the ancient rock formations in the park was vandalized a couple weeks ago -- and the damage might be irreparable.

“There has been an enormous problem with graffiti in the past couple years,” Kate Cannon, superintendent of Arches National Park, told ABC News today. Graffiti is prevalent in arches and canyonlands in parks all over the country, according to Cannon.

This most recent incident on April 15 was at the Frame Arch, where the words “Staten” and “Andersen” were carved deeply into the famed rock formation.

PHOTO: A common type of graffiti is scratching. Its illegal and unsightly, and takes work to remove. Rangers here use brushes and spray bottles to remove scratch marks. National Park Service Photo
A common type of graffiti is scratching. It's illegal and unsightly, and takes work to remove. Rangers here use brushes and spray bottles to remove scratch marks.

The park has been victim to graffiti “of all types,” from minor scratches and paint to larger defacements, such as the etching in the Frame Arch, according to Cannon. But the park staff decided to use this most recent incident to post the photos and send a message to the public that the graffiti is doing “significant damage” and needs to “be made socially unacceptable.”

Cannon said the park does not have a way of boosting up surveillance and they won’t be closing areas of the park. “We have as our purpose to make parks available to the public, so there aren’t really good solutions in closing it for us. That defeats our purpose,” she said.

PHOTO: Cloudy Sunset at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park. Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service
Cloudy Sunset at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park.

The hope is that “just as the graffiti trend accelerated and grew, we can push it back with the public’s help,” Cannon said. She urges the public to report when they see defacement or see someone defacing the land.

People caught in the act can face a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail, according to Cannon.

The park staff is thinking about filling back in the rock where the graffiti was scratched in, but “we know that if we do, we will have to go back and repair it over and over again,” Cannon said, adding that the same rock formation “was extensively cleaned of graffiti in last couple of years."

"How many times can you grind it down until it is no longer there?" she asked.