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Yosemite National Park officials are seeking the public’s help to track down the person or people responsible for spray-painting along one of the most popular trails in the park.
On May 20, Yosemite officials received a number of calls alerting them to fresh graffiti on Yosemite Falls, and along one of the oldest trails in the park. Upon further investigation, rangers found 30 different areas tagged with blue and white spray paint, with rocks dislodged and strewn about. Photos released by the park showed writing including the word “Fresno” and the number 559 (the city’s area code) written on the rock walls that line the trail. The resulting images varied in size from about a foot by a foot to 8 by 8 feet.
On Facebook, park officials stated that rangers set up a trail block and were able to identify potential suspects, and asked for anyone who may have witnessed the vandalism or recorded photographic or video evidence of it to contact the park.
This is one of several serious vandalism incidents that have taken place in national parks over the last several years. In April, Zion National Park discovered a string of carvings and paintings in the park. This January, rangers at Big Bend found that a visitor had scratched directly over a rock carving that was at least 5,000 years old; it was at least the 50th known time someone had vandalized a petroglyph in the park. Between 2018 and 2020, Death Valley experienced ongoing graffiti, when someone painted “Steve & Stacy” on rocks, buildings, and similar park infrastructure. The person responsible eventually turned himself in.
In many of these cases, park managers have turned to the public for help identifying suspects. After experiencing their most recent vandalism spree, Zion National Park officials encouraged other visitors to report the incidents, and to record videos or snap photos of the perpetrators.
Vandalizing surfaces in national parks is a federal misdemeanor. Those who are responsible may face 3 to 6 months of prison time, and up to $500 in fines; the NPS has also banned many of them from the parks.