Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 29, 2012

Graffiti: my nemesis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:34 am
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Scrubbing graffiti off sandstone while it’s 95 degrees in the shade is challenging. At least it’s a dry heat.

Spending the last two weeks on Graffiti Detail has deepened my passionate dislike of this stuff. Human nature wants to preserve a record of its presence in a place; graffiti is an ill-thought-out means of demonstrating that you were here. I’d venture to guess that the typical age of those who write on rocks (signs, trees, fences, etc) is 14-24 — well before their prefrontal cortex is fully developed and they can think through Cause & Effect more clearly.

A few minutes of circular scrubbing with a brush, water, and a handful of sand can get light surface graffiti off of our soft sandstone. If it’s incised more deeply, like pocket-knife initials grooved into a boulder, it takes much more elbow grease and multiple attempts. The brush-smear that remains is a give-away that a thoughtless person left their mark there.

You know, visitors photograph everything — including me removing graffiti, which always elicits a curious “What are you doing?” from folks wondering if I’m washing an arch. A splendid Teachable Moment ensues. My personal favorite: parents offering their youngsters for the removal efforts. Those children will never write on rock after working hard to restore it to its natural condition.

And, finally, in the category of “Imagine That”: previous graffiti-removal volunteers in national parks have inadvertently erased priceless historic signatures, so training is mandatory before one can tackle the curse of moderns leaving their marks behind.

Please… don’t write on things in public! I’d much rather be interpreting the park’s beauty for visitors than remediating what’s been defaced.

April 8, 2011


Chartreuse leaves have popped out on the sunny sides of the canyons!

“Resource Management & Visitor Protection” is such a mouthful that we’re often called just “RMVP.” Anything to do with keeping the park safe from the people, or the people safe in the park, falls within our department’s jurisdiction. This is different from “Interpretation,” the department for which I worked the past two seasons, whose job is to assist visitors to make intellectual and emotional connections with the resource. That job used skills that come very naturally to me. As I begin this new one, I am learning a lot of new skills all at once. It’s a wonderful feeling of being stretched.

The other day we monitored some riparian (“along a waterway”) trails and then hiked farther into the backcountry to look at historic nest sites of Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, and Red-Tailed Hawks. Of course, this is done while shouldering binoculars, camera, GPS, map, spotting scope, tripod, lunch, water, more water, bird book, sunscreen, field note folders, extra clothing layers, first aid kit, radio, and spare battery — at a minimum. I honestly feel as if I need a sherpa, but it is part of the Lean Mean Hiking Machine training regimen.

I’m typing this from the comfort of my bed at 6 a.m. the following day, knowing that I should be springing into action but finding that today my body doesn’t spring as readily as I had hoped. That will come… that will come.

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