Nature’s vandals

People seem to have an inborn inclination to leave their mark upon the world. Some do it through great works and noble deeds that will be remembered long after they are gone. Some do it by defacing public monuments.

A couple of recent incidents gained their perpetrators the kind of fame, or infamy, they may not have been looking for.

A few weeks ago a Boy Scout leader gained notoriety for knocking over a teetering sandstone boulder in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park. He claimed the boulder, which had been balanced atop its formation for millenia, posed a threat to his scouts. It’s obvious from the video he and his buddies posted on the internet that they were doing it for kicks. The Boy Scouts quickly severed its connection with this lout, who obviously never learned the lesson of respect for nature that the Boy Scouts teach.

Now a Minnesota couple is being investigated for carving their names and a heart in another national monument, Pompley’s Pillar, a sandstone pillar in Montana that bears the name of Capt. William Clark, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Clark made his mark on July 25, 1806, on his way back from the historic, landmark exploration of the Louisiana Purchase territory. The couple had to climb over a fence to express their affection for each other and their disdain for history.

People who travel and explore our nation’s vast and beautiful parks and monuments should remember the old saying, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”

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