Destinations

Is social media to blame for rise in vandalism in national parks?

Excerpt from New York Times

Jun 05, 2013 6:30 am

Skift Take

Social media gives vandals an immediate audience for their work, but it’s also helped discerning park officials find the perpetrators and inflict fines that ease the unsustainable cost of clean up.

— Samantha Shankman

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Arches National Park  / Flickr

Stephen Allen removes graffiti from Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. Arches National Park / Flickr


It was the latest example of a trend that has been unnerving park officials from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to Arches in Utah and Joshua Tree in California. Just as drought and rapid development have caused a rise in encounters between humans and wild animals on the edges of many American cities, the wilder side of urban life — vandalism, graffiti and litter — has found its way into the wilderness.

The cause of this recent spike in graffiti on public lands is unclear, but some park personnel say there is reason to believe that it coincides with the rise of social media. “In the old days,” said Lorna Lange, the spokeswoman for Joshua Tree, “people would paint something on a rock — it wouldn’t be till someone else came along that someone would report it and anybody would know about it.”

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