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5 June 2005
Rock vandals face possible felony charges

Some time between May 1 and May 15, seven people lit a bonfire and partied down at an ancient rock art site near St. George (Utah, USA). The Bureau of Land Management knows this because a hiker found burned pallets and empty beer cans strewn about the desert floor, as well as the names and obscene graffiti carved so deeply into the irreplaceable cliff art it might never be restored.
BLM (435-688-3332) is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the vandals' conviction on possible felony charges.
     The damage at the Land Hill Site overlooking the Santa Clara River near St. George spreads across 30 yards of cliff face that was cleaned up just last year after being defaced with paint, said BLM-St. George spokesman David Boyd. The hiker reported the damage May 16, he said. The graffiti gouged the hard surface of the rock known as desert varnish, Boyd said. The affected Land Hill area is at the end of a road and popular with paint-ballers, so vandalism is a recurring problem, he said.
     BLM archaeologist Julie Howard has noted that the agency frequently finds vandalism including chalk, bullet holes and chiseling into the rock art. If the damage isn't fixed quickly, it generally breeds more of the same. But amateur attempts to fix the art can make the situation worse.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune (28 May 2005)

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