Disfigured petroglyphs: Bureau of Land Management seeks information on identity of vandals | News

The Bureau of Land Management is investigating who may be responsible for the recent petroglyph vandalism in Mill Creek Canyon. Photos of the damage show “Petroglyphs Taylor Trey Wes Travis, August 3, 2021” carved into rock faces on ancient petroglyphs.

BLM Public Information Officer Rachel Wootton said the agency was made aware of the vandalism on August 10 and professional BLM archaeologists spent a few hours performing emergency restoration treatment at the site .

Wootton said the Moab BLM field office was receiving an increasing number of reports of vandalism. A particularly disturbing case occurred this spring, when racist messages were carved into the unique petroglyph site on Kane Creek Boulevard, known as Birthing Rock. [See “1,000-year-old petroglyphs marred by racist graffiti,” Apr. 27 edition. -ed.]

Investigations into the Birthing Rock incident and the most recent incident at Mill Creek Canyon are ongoing. Penalties for vandals, if caught, could include up to a year in prison and a $ 10,000 fine.

The damaged Mill Creek petroglyphs are estimated to have been made between 350 BC and 1300 AD and are characteristic of the northern San Juan tradition of ancestral Puebloan culture. Wootton added that the petroglyph sites are still a part of the living traditions of the local tribes; BLM officials contacted local tribes about the damage. They also performed a consultation required under the National Historic Preservation Act before starting emergency treatment.

Meanwhile, Wootton said emergency treatment at Birthing Rock was over. BLM plans to hire a rock art restoration specialist to continue work on the site. She stressed that BLM’s archaeologists and recreation staff have specialized training in restoring damaged rock art, and untrained members of the public should not try it – the sites could be further damaged by the ” use of improper cleaning methods or attempted recovery. Those interested in helping with restoration efforts can contact the BLM office to learn about volunteer and training opportunities.

The BLM has recreation and law enforcement officers who patrol popular sites and engage with visitors. The agency also partners with other local agencies like the county sheriff’s office. Yet, Wootton noted, officials cannot be everywhere at once. Moab BLM’s field office oversees 1.8 million acres of public land. The agency conducts education and awareness activities through signs, information on its websites and social media, as well as face-to-face conversations with visitors. The goal, said Wootton, is to reach visitors both before they arrive and while they are enjoying the area.

“These sites are wonderful for people to learn and have fun with, but they have to do it with respect because we can’t get them back,” Wootton said.

If you have any information on who is responsible for this vandalism, which occurred before August 10, 2021, please contact BLM Law Enforcement at 435-259-2131. You can remain anonymous.