Is showing off on social media part of the problem behind a recent and serious rise in vandalism of wildspace? Many state parks have been hit much harder than usual with graffiti and destruction, and some wonder if the ability to show off one's "work" via platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram could be adding fuel to the fire.
When Steve Bolyard checked out a report of black paint on some of the park’s majestic saguaros — cactuses whose towering bodies and upraised arms are as emblematic of the American West as red-rock buttes and skittering tumbleweeds — he did not expect to see ganglike calligraphy covering more of them than he could easily count...
It was the latest example of a trend that has been unnerving park officials from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to Arches in Utah and Joshua Tree in California. Just as drought and rapid development have caused a rise in encounters between humans and wild animals on the edges of many American cities, the wilder side of urban life — vandalism, graffiti and litter — has found its way into the wilderness.
However, the piece also points out that social media can help officials learn about and fix the problem faster. But at a significant cost. State parks are in a tight budget crunch, and spending money and resources repairing such despicable damage takes those resources away from other conservation efforts.
Read the article in full at the New York Times.