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People Are Destroying Dinosaur Tracks in Utah & This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

So apparently vandalism has gone beyond littering and transcended to destroying ancient ruins in state parks. Utah State Parks blog has reported that tourists have been tearing slabs of ancient rock and tossing them into a nearby reservoir in Red Fleet in Utah. The chunks of sandstone are reportedly marked with the 200-million-year-old footprints of dinosaurs.

Utah Division of State Parks spokesman Devan Chavez talked to The Salt Lake Tribune about the vandalism issue. “It’s become quite a big problem. They’re just looking to throw rocks off the side. What they don’t realize is these rocks they’re picking up, they’re covered in dinosaur tracks.”

According to scientists, this northeastern Utah dessert was once a bog, home to eight-foot raptors that left their footprints in the swampy ground. Today, 200 million years later, thousands of people visit the park every year to see the fossils. 

Park manager Josh Hansen said he recently had to stop a young boy tossing bits of track-imprinted rock into the water after he had already thrown two pieces into the water. Visitors have been steadily chipping away at the sandstone over the past six months, and the park blog states that at least 10 tracks have been vandalized. According to the Tribune, some slabs sink underwater while some are simply destroyed on impact. 

The park is taking steps to end the growing vandalism trends, installing extra signs warning visitors not to disturb the ancient rocks. “It is illegal to displace rocks that contain the tracks,” Hansen told the park blog. “Disturbing them like this is an act of vandalism.” 

This is not the first time that this park is facing vandalism issues. In 2001, three Boy Scouts were charged in juvenile court for tossing rocks into the reservoir. Divers were able to recover about 90% of the footprints. This time around, the park may send in divers to try to recover the lost tracks. 

“This has been an ongoing problem that we really would like to stop,” Chavez told The Washington Post. “These tracks are an important part of what makes Red Fleet State Park such a beautiful and special place. Being able to walk, hike and even swim or boat next to where dinosaurs once stood is an amazing feeling.”

Meghan is the Life Editor and a National Features Writer for Her Campus. A senior at the College of the Holy Cross studying English and History, she hopes to one day write a novel (or at least edit one) and is constantly in search of a good book to read, her next cup of coffee, and a dog to pet.
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