Park rangers report increase in vandalism on Blue Ridge Parkway

NORTH CAROLINA — Park rangers are asking Blue Ridge Parkway visitors to take better care of the park while visiting.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty learned that part of the High Country attracts 15 million visitors each year, but vandals are messing up many of their experiences. In a Facebook post, rangers said in recent years, they’ve seen an increase in vandalized and stolen signs across the park.

Faherty was also sent cell phone video of graffiti on the rocks.

“This is right in the middle of where I’m sitting trying to look at the nice mountains, so it’s a little bit distracting from the pretty views you get to see out here,” visitor Taylor Poland said.

Brent Rascoe asked his girlfriend to marry him Friday at an overlook where the sign had been stolen and graffiti was left in the parking area.

“Some people just have to deface beauty,” he said.

“Nearly every day, park rangers find words or images drawn, painted, or carved into signs, fences and infrastructure,” the park’s Facebook post reads.

The signs, which can provide location information or share the park’s story, are custom-made and replacing them is “expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive,” rangers said.

Park rangers and volunteers regularly remove graffiti, but their time and resources could be better used elsewhere, officials said.

The park service wants visitors to know stealing signage is a federal felony. Spray-painting graffiti on the parkway can also lead to a $5,000 fine and months in prison.

“We want to remind park visitors and neighbors that if you are on the parkway and witness someone taking a sign or vandalizing park property, take down license plate information, leave the area, and call 1.800.PARKWATCH (1.800.727.5928) to report the incident to park dispatchers,” the post concludes.

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