JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - Park rangers at Joshua Tree National Park extended closures to the vandalized Rattlesnake Canyon for another 30 days. Volunteers and rangers continue efforts to clean up graffiti left on seventeen different areas of the popular hiking and day use area. The closure includes physical access, public entry and use to protect the canyon from continued damage.
The closure has hikers and rangers upset and in shock. "It's such a gorgeous place," said Dan Eversole, who was visiting from San Diego. "I can't even imagine that someone would come out here, and then just do it for the purpose of defacing. It's awful."
Someone spray-painted names, words and numbers all over rocks in Rattlesnake Canyon in January. Now,the park with the help of volunteers work at the difficult of cleaning up, while respecting the landscape. "It was a pretty low-tech process to clean these sites," said Pilcher. "We used water, mixed with a biodegradable chemical, and that was pretty much it."
Even the gentle process discolors the rock a little bit. That's not the only challenge. The graffiti's located in an area special for several Indian tribes. "They would migrate to it and out of here and they have some sensitivities so we are consulting with them," said Pilcher.
The park expects the closure to last through the end of May. Until then, Jan gives this message to the vandals. "Shame on you," said Eversole. "I would be really mad at them. But I would explain there's so many people that want to see it and enjoy it."
If caught, the vandals face up to six months in jail and fines.