The National Park Service is investigating damage at the Petroglyph National Monument that was caused by visitors who created several hundred rock “cairns” or stacks. KRQE reports the damage was discovered by park neighbors on June 17th and was reported to park staff and is now under investigation.
NPS says the rock cairns are human-made piles of rocks and more than 300 newly created rock cairns were found. They range in size from small to some that are several feet high. Creating new rock cairns is considered vandalism and is a violation of federal regulations. Additionally, the newly created cairns damage monument resources as moving rocks can destroy archaeological sites, increases potential for erosion by exposing soils to wind and water erosion, and can disturb wildlife, plants, and insects.
The public is reminded that rocks should not be moved, stacked, or used to create designs, or altered in any way. NPS states that the area affected includes portions of the Las Imagines Archaeological District which includes the 17-mile long West Mesa and includes more than 20,000 petroglyphs and several recorded archaeological sites.
Work crews are carefully dismantling the rock cairns and are placing the rocks at their origin points based on evidence and onsite soil disturbance. NPS says that full restoration is not possible as the exact location of the moved rocks is not known. Anyone with information that can help find the perpetrators of the vandalism is asked to contact the park at 505-899-0205 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.