With Navy jets soaring overhead and armed guards on patrol, security measures at Coso give pause to those who would loot or deface these invaluable petroglyphs. Unfortunately, other land management agencies have neither the resources nor the staff power to provide such security, especially for widespread, backcountry sites. Yet, it is the mission of many of these agencies—including National Park Service—to provide public access to cultural resources.
Petroglyphs and pictographs are part of our nation's cultural heritage that cannot be removed to a museum or gallery. Viewing these images where they were first created allows the viewer to appreciate them in the best possible context. At the same time, it puts them at greater risk for vandalism—the single most destructive force facing these irreplaceable images.
Spray-painting graffiti, carving initials, and removal for collection or sale robs everyone of an invaluable part of our country's rich cultural heritage. Moreover, each of these acts is punishable by law, and some vandals have received both hefty fines and prison sentences for the wanton removal and/or destruction of these images. While we cannot always prevent the deterioration caused by the forces of nature, we can prevent the damage caused by human hands. more >>