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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vandalism is a Homo + Likes Butt

This is not directly bird-related, but it sort of is in that many bird species are dependent on federally-protected lands for their habitats. A few months ago a couple people entered the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area in Colorado and proceeded to spray-paint graffiti all over a bunch of prehistoric Native American rock paintings.

Vandalism on federal lands, the land that belongs to each and every American, ranges from graffiti to littering to shooting to illegal off-road vehicle use to the outright digging up and theft of prehistoric artifacts. At it's worse it can help spread exotic species (as in illegal turf dumps at Idaho's Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area), permamently ruin prehistoric sites (as in many graffiti incidents and the January 2006 looting of a huge Ancestral Puebloan settlement in Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients National Monument) and ruin fragile geological features f(illegal ORV use along fragile desert streambeds and the destruction of the Eye of the Needle arch in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana).

Vandalism happens all the time, but the recent McInnis Canyons graffiti really pissed me off. Here's a shot of some of the work, courtesy of the BLM:

Can you see that? Can you read it?

Thousands of years ago a member of the Pueblo tribe, out in the baking sun, etched representations of his daily life into the side of a rock. These etchings, among the earliest lasting examples of creative artwork, lasted unchanged on the rock face for centuries, until one day when some brain-dead teenager drunkenly strolls up and writes AMBER IS A HOMO + LIKES BUTT all over it? Are you kidding me? AMBER IS A HOMO + LIKES BUTT?!

This is absolutely horrible. It's ironic that at the same time we are trying to preserve these works in their natural state (i.e. out in the wilderness without barriers or roads or interpretive signs), our efforts also make the art more vulnerable to vandalism. The same considerations should be made, though. Would we dismiss graffiti painted on the Mona Lisa this easily?

Unfortunately, the federal agencies charged with protecting these lands (BLM, Parks Service, Fish and Wildlife, Forest Service) are continually having their budgets cut by the Bush Administration and can rarely afford rangers and law enforcement officials to do patrol and education. As far as I'm concerned, the lack of understanding that much of America has about the importance of protecting wild lands is, you guessed it, a homo + likes butt.

Disclaimer: FYI I have nothing against homosexuals or liking butt I'm just using it for effect, OK?.
Some punks need serious beatings and then an extended civics course.
Amen, Chuckles.
Thoroughly obnoxious. But why do I have this strange feeling that somebody thousands of years from now will read "Amber is a homo + likes butt" on the side of a rock and get excited about his/her great archaeological discovery? It could happen.
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