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Contact: Frank Sellers, 304 574-0165
This winter, National Park Service (NPS) employees are working in cooperation with volunteers from the local rock climbing community to remove graffiti from the Beauty Mountain cliffs in New River Gorge National River near Fayetteville, WV. The graffiti removal project is on-going during the winter months and takes place as weather conditions permit.
The climbers and the NPS have teamed up to tackle the project which requires carrying a gas powered compressor, sandblaster and many 100 pound bags of sand into the site, which is a half mile from the nearest road. “Carrying the heavy equipment through rocky terrain and up to the cliffs is challenging, but the climbers and volunteers are in good physical shape and they make it look easy,” observed NPS District Ranger Frank Sellers. “It’s their effort and muscle that make this clean-up possible. It's great to see park users contributing and helping to make the New River Gorge a better place.”
The Beauty Mountain boulders area is the most heavily vandalized area within the national park. New spray paint vandalism is discovered frequently and NPS rangers have had limited success investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting offenders. “It is difficult catching vandals in the act and the numerous investigations are time consuming,” says Ranger Peggy Brown who devised the clean up project a few years ago and coordinates the effort. However, the specialized equipment for this project was purchased using court-ordered restitution payments from those individuals caught and convicted of spray painting graffiti on the cliffs.
On project days, the team carries the equipment into the site, selects an area to work, and blasts the rock face clear of spray paint. The team plans to tackle different sections in the weeks ahead. Sellers admits that “this is a big project, but with the help of volunteers, we can get it done. Park rangers will be increasing patrols and aggressively prosecuting anyone caught spray painting the rocks or any other features in the New River Gorge. Special restrictions are being considered by the park for the Beauty Mountain area to combat this natural resources eyesore. It is difficult to understand why anyone would want to deface such a beautiful area.”