Vandalism of petroglyphs, historic sites could result in up to $100,000 fine in Colorado

The Grand Junction Field Office has received increasing reports of vandalism of cultural resources, including historic structures and petroglyphs. Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management – Colorado

The Grand Junction Field Office is asking for the public’s help as they investigate multiple reports of vandalism at cultural sites in western Colorado’s Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. Damages have been found at historical cabins, on ancient rock walls, and among petroglyphs.

According to Eric Coulter Public Affairs Specialist for the BLM in Colorado’s Southwest District, the petroglyphs are a fragile part of local history and this sort of damage is often irreversible. The petroglyphs in the area provide insight into past Native American culture, revealing hunting, sheltering, and traveling along the Gunnison River Valley to the Uncompahgre Plateau.

In one example, an ancient rock that has been carved into reads “Hello, Goodbye.” Authorities are actively looking into the rock carvings across public lands hoping that often-featured names, dates, and initials may help solve some of the crimes.

Painting, carving, or marking historical sites in any way is considered vandalism. The graffiti suspect(s) could face up to one year in jail and fines up to $100,000, according to Coulter.

The Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area is located on the western slope, southeast of Grand Junction and northwest of Montrose. The cultural and historical area consists of about 210,172 acres of protected public lands, with elevations ranging from 4,800 to 8,200 feet.

Here’s a look at where it’s located on the map.

Anyone with information about the vandalism incident is asked to call the Grand Junction Field Office at 970-244-3000.

Editor’s Note: Please recreate safely and responsibly. Come prepared to leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them. Pack out all your trash, follow the core principles of Leave No Trace, and respect all current state and county closures and public health orders related to COVID-19. Social distancing should also be maintained. 


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