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STATE CLEANS UP GRAFFITI LEFT BY VANDALS

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State workers recently removed graffiti on various rock formations and repaired bicycle signs defaced by vandals along the Colorado River road in an attempt to discourage further vandalism.

Early this month, the district office of the state Department of Transportation dispatched crews to remove six bicycle signs along scenic river routes U-128 and U-279 that had been spray painted.Only two of the signs had been replaced by last weekend.

"We'll see how long those two last. If they don't deface them again, we'll put the rest back up," Dyke LeFevre, UDOT district director, said.

On all but one of the signs, someone had painted a circle with a slash through the bicycle. One of the signs near the Fisher Towers area also told bikers to "Go Home."

LeFevre said the signs were erected late in April to warn motorists to watch for bicyclists along the narrow river road. He said bicycling along the river roads has increased considerably over the past two years.

Fire crews and an archaeologist from the Moab District Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management also worked to reduce signs of vandalism within the past month at several sites around Moab.

Crews removed graffiti in late May by sandblasting at several isolated sites south along U.S. Highway 191 and at Wilson Arch, the Kane Springs Rest Area by Hole in the Rock, at Moonflower Canyon up Kane Creek Boulevard, and near the Big Bend Picnic Area along U-128.

"We tried to remove it in such a way that it's aesthetic. Overall, it looks pretty good," said Julie Howard, BLM archaeologist.

"Where we sandblast, we try to make it blend in so it doesn't look really intrusive. What we've found is, once it's cleaned off, very few people will start it," she added. "Once someone starts it, other people join in."

At Wilson Arch, about 21 miles south of Moab, motorists last winter observed and reported vandals in the act of inscribing their names and hometowns in gray paint. Two men were later arrested in Price and convicted of the vandalism.

Dave Minor, BLM recreation planner, said removing the graffiti at the Kane Springs Rest Area a few miles above Wilson Arch was the biggest job the crew tackled. It hadn't been done in about four years, and people had spray painted names and messages along a bench area stretching for about 300 feet, "kind of like a signature board," he said.

Petroglyphs can be found almost the entire length of Kane Creek Boulevard, which winds along the Colorado River west of Moab. Most are still in pristine condition, but Howard said extensive damage to the Moonflower petroglyphs, which are visible from the road, reflects the increasing popularity of the site as a campground area.