An art conservator believes most of the graffiti marring a panel of prehistoric art in Buckhorn Wash southeast of Castle Dale can be removed.

"No one can guarantee they can remove all of this graffiti from the paintings - some of it has been here for so long it has bonded with the cliff," says Sharon Odekirk. But she said a majority of it can be removed or covered.Odekirk visited the site Saturday with members of the Emery County State Centennial Committee. The committee plans to offer the restored panel as a gift for the state's 100th birthday in 1996.

Odekirk, who lives in Provo, works as a conservator for The Museum of Church History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. She learned rock-art restoration at Australia's Canberra University.

Graffiti began to appear on the panel in the late 1800s when settlers and those passing through the area applied their names and dates to the rock with axle grease from their wagons.

Since then the 100-foot-by-20-foot panel has been shot, gouged and scrawled on with paint, charcoal and chalk.

Odekirk said one restoration technique will be to apply an enzyme solution to soften the graffiti and then remove it from the porous sandstone before it is reabsorbed.