Defacing Our Natural Treasures

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Destructive Illegal Carvings on Sandstone, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Destructive Illegal Carvings on Sandstone, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

It is unbelievable how selfish some people are. It only takes a minute of human stupidity to destroy tens of thousands of years worth of work. I see a lot of photographers shooting pretty pictures but few show the effects of tourism on our landscape. Let’s keep it real and shine the light on the other side as well.

See more of my environmental pictures.


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12 thoughts

  1. Good point Richard. We all see this and yet naturally prefer to look away (in disgust).

    As landscape photographers we hope that our images will show the beauty of the natural world and that alone will justify its preservation. But its important that people understand how easliy their public lands can be damaged or destroyed, perhaps before they even get a chance to experience them.

  2. Thanks Russ. As you note, most people get turned off by it. Rather than ignore, I think if we take some time to actually highlight this stuff that happens then maybe people will be aware that not everything is perfect in these locations, and that this is unacceptable.

  3. This type of stuff just drives me nuts. Shows the arrogance, carelessness, and disrespect of nature, most likely from kids. Even if we publish a bazillion images of this kind of thing, Indont think it changes the mindset of those willing to do this type of stuff.

  4. Hey Mark. While it probably won’t change an idiot’s mind, it can make a parent mad enough so they teach their kids to never act this way. Preventative measures I guess you could say.

  5. I hear ya, but that should be a parent’s job of teaching respect for many things – people, cultures, nature. Things like this seem more like a function of lack of parental oversight – what we need is more video cameras monitoring these places. 🙂

  6. Indeed, sometimes people can be real jack asses!!! That’s why I always carry a plastic trash bag in my gear when I’m out somewhere off the beaten path. Helps to have somewhere to store that coke can or piece of trash someone left laying around.

    For another take, though…. in 500 years, are those initials and carvings going to be any different than the pictographs and petroglyphs that we all enjoy looking at??? Won’t they also be a sign of those who went before??

    Why do we consider American Indian graffiti from several hundred years ago OK but what some doofus did yesterday is bad? (and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hunting pictographs, they are fascinating!)

    I’m not sanctioning or condoning or approving of what some disrespectful idiot did…. but as an archeologist friend of mine asked me “what’s the difference between graffiti and art? ….. 50 years!”

  7. Hi Derrick. You bring up a point that I’ve heard before. I can’t speak for the petroglyphs because I’m not an archaelogist and not familiar with their life at the time. But I’d assume that perhaps they didn’t have the means of writing or drawing on paper (or electronics) at the time so they made do with any surface. Just a guess, I have no opinion on that.

  8. I hear ya. That’s part of the fun of trying to figure out what those folks were trying to say! I think that some of them are telling stories, some of them are “art” and some of them are from someone who’s bored to death and looking to occupy some time. At what point do those things become valuable to us?

    I often wonder this myself. I’ve seen a fantastic display of American Indian art at a place called Paint Rock. It’s like a quarter mile of stuff. Very cool. That being said, there’s graffiti (for lack of a better word) from the 19th century from some of the white settlers that moved in or passed by the area. In fact, there’s a spot where they think it’s likely that a member of Robert E. Lee’s troop left his mark. Is that graffiti or is it history??

    There are also several examples of modern folks in the mid to late 20th century putting their mark on the wall; which bothers me quite a bit!

    The Indian stuff I think is fascinating, the 19th century stuff I find historically intriguing, and the modern stuff bothers me. Anyway… food for thought. 😉

    Cheers,

  9. You bring up some really good points, Derrick. It’s really hard to judge things that happened that long ago because society (if you can call it that) was much different than it is today. It’s not acceptable behavior by today’s standards to do this and aside from being illegal there is little practical reason to do so. But yes, I find petroglyphs to be a fascinating study as well because it’s so mysterious.

  10. Richard,
    In southeastern Nebraska there is a state park called Indian Cave State Park. In this cave, there is some art that has been etched into the wall from the Native Americans. There is so much recent graffiti on the cave that it is hard to see the items left there by the original artists. For me, it was a difficult experience and I walked away in disgust. Upon review, however, I wonder what some Native Americans thought back then, perhaps they viewed it as defacement as well. I’m not justifying or condoning the actions, but still it makes me wonder.

  11. That is unfortunate, Derrald. Since we don’t know enough about their reasons for doing the petroglyphs back in the day, and they presumably set aside that park to preserve them, it is really disrespectful to go graffiti it up.

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