Graffiti Mars Natural Beauty in Lost Valley

(KATV, Source: National Park Service) Arecent report of graffiti at Cobb Cave and Eden Falls cave at the end of LostValley Trail has focused attention of park resource managers. It is located in the upper Buffalo National River area.

Although a low-level issue in thepast, there has been a dramatic increase in the volume in the last few monthsof 2012. Using charcoal to draw or rocks to peck or incise rock surfaces withnames, dates, etc., these ancient monuments have joined the ranks of bridgesand boxcars as the billboards for graffiti. This is not the only placewhere graffiti has occurred. We typically find it in area frequented byyouth, and sometimes associated with specific youth groups who use thepark.

While some may argue that this is just"human nature" it is also against the law (e.g., Archeological ResourcesProtection Act, Cave Protection Act). In addition to being unsightly, thisactivity ranges from misdemeanor to felony in scope if prosecuted. Whensomething of this nature occurs, the park's responsibilities include some levelof investigation, notification of concerned parties such as Native Americantribes, development of a restoration and repair plan and, eventually the actualclean-up of the site. The process sounds involved, and it is.

The National Park Service, like allgovernment agencies, has laws, policies, and guidelines in place to help directthe planning of actions to insure the best possible outcome. This usuallytakes some time, but it helps insure that the cure is not worse than the originalproblem!

The task of cleaning up the mess inLost Valley has been taken up by volunteers and park staff. Members of theOzark Society, Buffalo National River Partners, the Arkansas MasterNaturalists, and students from Jasper High School will form a team to addressthe problem later in December or January. It is hoped that we are not at thefront end of a trend and need the visiting public to help spread the word thatsuch behavior is unacceptable.