7 Things Not to Graffiti in the Backcountry

Just don't do it.

Photo: NPS Photo

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Maybe it seems like a juvenile prank, but the reality is that a single act of vandalism on public lands can cost thousands of dollars and weeks of cleanup, or even destroy cultural or archaeological artifacts and natural phenomenon that have formed over hundreds of thousands of years. While workers try to salvage what they can, sections of land are often closed to visitors. Vandals have even driven some regional offices mad enough to consider refusing to clean up after them. 

If that’s not convincing enough (and it should be), you could land yourself a federal misdemeanor with a $5,000 fine, six months in jail, and a ban from national public lands. 

Here are just a few examples of all the traces you could easily not leave in our national parks, forests, and refuges. 

  1. Your Instagram handle. Don’t be like this recent offender and leave behind a mark that tells the whole world you did it.
  2. Your promposal. This could get your would-be date into trouble, too. Hopefully, he or she said no. 
  3. Your art. It’s nice, but it would look a lot better on canvas. The natural landscape really upstages it.
  4. The initials of your sweetheart. Or your spouse, for that matter. Let’s be honest. If you’re carving each other’s initials into trees and rocks, you might need to reevaluate the maturity of your relationship.
  5. Your nickname. It’s exciting that you’re finding yourself and building your identity. Public lands are a great place to do that! Just not like this.
  6. Your actual name. Seriously, are you trying to get caught?
  7. Literally anything else.

So you’ve got the “not vandalizing” part down pat, but still want to help? If you catch wind of defacement on public lands, call and report it to the appropriate authorities. They’ll appreciate the tip. 

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