ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) Vandalism continues to be a major threat to Utah’s oldest treasures. In Washington County, a new partnership aims to prevent petroglyphs from being loved to death.
“Our rock art locally in St. George is being graffiti-ed over the top of. They’re writing their names or calling out their school or professing their love for someone,” Lori Hunsaker said, Bureau of Land Management archeologist.
Vandalism over ancient drawings and the looting of archeological sites is a growing problem in southern Utah – specifically at the Land Hill Heritage site west of St. George.
“It breaks my heart. These are sites that have religious importance to Native Americans. They are artistically important to all of us as humans and they present a great economic value in terms of tourism,” Hunsaker said.
As part of the Respect and Protect campaign, the BLM is partnering with Conserve Southwest Utah to prevent further damage.
“We’ve actually had one mom say, ‘If the Indians could write on the rocks, how come my kids can’t,” Susan Crook said, Land Program Manager/SUNCLF Director.
As part of the partnership, a “Petroglyph Patrol” will monitor Land Hill during peak times.
Starting this summer, the volunteers will educate parents and children about appropriate behavior near the ancient site.
“Losing these sites or having them destroyed to the point where we can read the stories that are there, is a huge loss to our culture, to everyone. It’s like burning down libraries,” Crook said.
To catch vandals and looters in San Juan County, Friends of Cedar Mesa is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone who damaged archeological resources on public land.