Utah Rock Art Research Association Urges Locals to Protect Local Rock Art

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Photo by Jamie Swank

Diana and Steve Acerson of the Utah Rock Art Research Association recently visited Price City to educate all on the value of rock art as well as the need to respect and preserve it.

The association is in partnership with the Utah State History for a new program entitled the Utah Public Archaeology Network. The purpose of the partnership is to stop vandalism of cultural sites in Utah, which is an ongoing problem. It was stated that lot of of vandalism comes from children and those riding ATVs.

Educating residents in certain cities and towns is the goal with the hope of information trickling down through the residents by means of public outreach. This can be conducted through city letters, a city website, water bills and more to ensure that residents who live in the area with rock art in the vicinity know the rock art etiquette. People are encouraged to teach others about what not what to do.

The Acersons recently visited Green River and Price was the second stop on their circuit as 20 towns and cities in the state of Utah with a strong rock art presence were identified. They remarked that many people, for many generations, have visited to view the art but possibly did not respect it. Resources such as Nine Mile Canyon, the San Rafael Swell, Range Creek and more have a plethora of rock art for all to see.

Vandalism of cultural sites is a worldwide issue, though there are no major fines connected to it and many conduct the vandalism ignorantly. The Acersons believe that knowing the proper etiquette presents more respect and will prompt locals to work with visitors to have the same respect for the rock art.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been reported that vandalism has rocketed 30% and the focus is to stop the vandalism and educate the public.

Some etiquette tips are not to touch the art, not to camp next to it and not to dig around them since, especially some of the art goes below the surface due to time. It is recommended to simply take photos of the rock art and take the photographs home with you. It is also advised to not throw water on the art or try to brush the dust off of it.

One major reason that the rock art needs to be respected is due to many native peoples that continue to conduct religious ceremonies. The rock art is a piece of history and non-renewable resource; if the art is destroyed, it is simply gone. The Acersons compared the rock art as being like other cultures’ churches and temples. The state of Utah realized that it is so prevalent that rock art was made the art of the state. Senator David Hinkins, who is from Emery County, sponsored that bill and saw it passed through.

Steve remarked that the beautiful places belong to all and, therefore, all should be taking a personal interest. The protection of the rock art will come from a cultural shift. It is stated that between the ages of 15 to 40 are the ones doing the most damage.

More information on the guidelines of rock art etiquette, ways to educate and more can be found by clicking here.

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