National Forest officials release images of vandalism at prehistoric rock art sites

New Mexico

Officials at the Gila National Forest are reminding the public of the fragility of prehistoric rock art sites after releasing images of recent vandalism discovered at Chloride Creek. Rock art, which includes petroglyphs and pictographs, is considered sacred and varies depending on the culture.

The rock art is protected by the law and is extremely fragile. It is illegal to disturb or collect archaeological materials on public land without an issued permit from the appropriate land managing agency.

The penalty for this crime is a maximum fine of $250,000 fine as well as the confiscation of vehicles, equipment used in the crime. As a reminder to the public, Gila National Forest officials have compiled an etiquette list when visiting sites containing rock art:

  • oils on the skin can affect the rock surface, avoid touching rock art, including surfaces around it
  • do not apply any substance to the rock art surface, including water
  • do not attempt to remove graffiti, chalking, droppings, or anything from rock art
  • do not collect or disturb artifacts at rock art sites
  • speak out within your community to prevent damage to sites and report any new rock art destruction

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