Large area of the Petroglyphs National Monument damaged due to the creation of man-made rocky mounds
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The National Park Service is investigating damage to the Petroglyphs National Monument by visitors who have created several hundred “cairns” or piles of rock. The NPS reports that the damage was discovered by neighbors in the park on June 17 and was reported to park staff and is currently under investigation.
In a press release, NPS says rock cairns are man-made piles of rocks and more than 300 newly created rock cairns have been found. They range in size from two to three small cairns to large piles several feet high and made up of dozens of rocks.
NPS explains that the creation of new rock cairns is considered vandalism and is a violation of federal regulations. Additionally, the newly created cairns damage monument resources, as moving rocks can destroy archaeological sites, increase the potential for erosion by exposing soils to wind and water erosion, and can disturb wildlife, plants. and insects.
The public is reminded that rocks should not be moved, stacked, or used to create patterns, or altered in any way. The NPS says the affected area includes parts of the Las Imagines archaeological district, which includes the 17-mile-long West Mesa and includes more than 20,000 petroglyphs and several recorded archaeological sites.
The press release adds that monument work crews are carefully dismantling the rock cairns and placing the rocks at their point of origin based on evidence and ground disturbance on site. NPS says a full restoration is not possible because the exact location of the displaced rocks is not known.
Anyone with information that can help find the perpetrators of the vandalism is asked to contact the park at 505-899-0205 or by email at [email protected]