THE SPECTRUM- Nevada’s newest National Monument is no stranger to vandalism.
Luckily, there is dedicated group of trained volunteers organized by Friends of Gold Butte that are eager to keep Gold Butte pristine and natural.
One previously vandalized area is at White Rock, a pinnacle at the entrance to Cabin Canyon in the Virgin Mountains. In recent years, that boulder and the surrounding area has attracted graffiti.
The paint was thick, but with muscle power and an alcohol based cleaner fittingly called “This Stuff Works,” the 11 volunteers were able to remove the vast majority of the graffiti. The event also served as a formal Bureau of Land Management Graffiti Removal training led by Peter Sbraccia of Friends of Red Rock.
“Removing the graffiti now discourages more graffiti in the future,” said Justin van Wijk, community outreach manager for Friends of Gold Butte. “The vandals could come back, but they will eventually realize that nothing can match the persistence of our trained and dedicated volunteers.”
Though there are occasional signs of vandalism, the vast majority of visitors respect the land. Many of the OHV riders stopped on their way into Cabin Canyon to see what the group was doing. One group of visitors made sure to say thank you to the group once on the way into the canyon and again on the way out.
Gold Butte National Monument is over 297,937 acres of prime Mojave Desert public land. It is rich in human and natural antiquity, with 1.7 billion years of geologic history and 12,000 years of human habitation. The entire area of Gold Butte is a traditional Lifeway for the Southern Paiute tribes, the Nuwuvi. There are many signs to be found of previous inhabitants and travelers including roasting pits, Neolithic scatter, and petroglyphs.
“Writing on rocks is not a new way to communicate,” said Michelle Burkett, a Friends of Gold Butte volunteer attending the graffiti removal event, “but it would be wrong to equate this spray paint with the petroglyphs. Now we have so many more alternative ways to communicate available to us: cell phones, the internet. We need to respect the ancient ways of doing it.”
Those who see what they believe to be graffiti are asked not to attempt to remove it themselves. Friends of Gold Butte encourages monument patrons to contact them instead at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is an official procedure to follow to ensure that the graffiti is indeed graffiti, and that it is properly removed without further damaging the surrounding area.