ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Petroglyph National Monument is one of Albuquerque’s historic treasures. However for vandals, it became a place to try their hand at graffiti.
The rocks, with their centuries-old markings, serve as sacred landmarks for New Mexico’s pueblos and for one man who helped the park get its national recognition. Many dirt roads wind across Albuquerque’s west mesa and have long been a dumping ground for all kinds of trash.
“The city Open Space crews have been out this morning,” Ike Eastvold said Monday, hiking along a portion of the monument near the volcanoes.
Vandals have also been out at the monument.
“You can see this is a campfire area here which is illegal,” Eastvold said, pointing to a pile of burned trash. “They come down here and shoot, too. They have even shot the petroglyphs.”
Eastvold knows a thing or two about this area.
“We’re coming up on the 25th anniversary of the establishment act,” he said.
With the help of others, he worked for five years back in the late ’80s to create the Petroglyph National Monument alongside lawmakers.
“With that honor, comes an obligation,” Eastvold said. “I have not walked away from this. I’ve tried to stay with it and care for it as I can,” the 74-year-old added.
To see semi tires littered across the land, it hurts him. But what Eastvold found last week was even worse.
“Well, I found it last Wednesday, but who knows how long it’s been here,” he said, walking towards a dry cave in the northwest corner of the monument. “These tags I’m sure are found elsewhere in this part of the city. It was like a gut punch when I saw this. It was just like a gut punch.”
Vandals, armed with gold spray paint, wrote things like “taz,” “Love Jesus,” and “Crazy Bone” all over the lava rock.
Eastvold said it’s a slap in the face not only to him but for the natives who still to this day use the land for prayer. He is hoping the city takes notice.
“You have an attraction already here that will generate economic revenue for the tourism sector of Albuquerque and the state, you just have to care for it,” Eastvold said.
He also has a message for those vandals.
“The signs showing this is a national monument are intact and so whoever did the vandalism here cannot argue ignorance,” Eastvold said.
The city’s Open Space Division replaced some of the damaged fence out near the monument Monday morning to keep troublemakers out. The director said they will next turn their attention to the trash and to putting up more signs. He said getting rid of the graffiti will be a time-consuming process.
Eastvold said people he’s talked to believe teenagers often hang out in the area and they could be behind it.
If caught, the vandals could be looking at federal charges.