Vandalism Investigated at National Parks Out West
The National Park Service has launched an investigation following reports of vandalism in at least 10 parks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Utah, officials said today.
"On Tuesday we received a phone call from a reporter who directed us to a web blog called www.modernhiker.com claiming that a person has self-identified as serially vandalizing National Parks in the west," Jeffrey Oslon, a National Park Services spokesman told ABC News.
"We have verified the images of the vandalized sites and we are trying to locate them, confirm that they exist so we can repair them," he added.
A statement issued by the National Park Service lists the areas affected as Yosemite National Park, California; Death Valley National Park, California; Crater Lake National Park, Oregon; Zion National Park and Canyonlands National Park, both in Utah.
"We are awaiting confirmation in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park and Joshua Tree National Park, both in California; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; Bryce National Park, Utah," the statement said.
Vandalism, as described in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 2.31(a)(3): Destroying, injuring, defacing, or damaging property or real property.
"Vandalism is a class A misdemeanor and since this act happened on federal land it makes the Federal Class A misdemeanor. It is a penalty of $5,000 and one year in prison," said Olson.
"National parks exist to preserve and protect our nation's natural, cultural and historic heritage for both current and future generations. Vandalism is a violation of the law and it also damages and sometimes destroys often irreplaceable treasures that belong to all Americans," the National Park Service said in a statement.
ABC News tried to access the Instagram and Tumblr accounts where the pictures and comments allegedly have been posted but it appears they were taken down. However, many of the pictures appeared on Modern Hiker's blog in a story they published called "Art in the Parks."
"There are forums for artistic expression in national parks because national parks inspire artistic creativity. These images are outside that forum and outside the law," said Olson.