This is why we can't have nice things!
Located near Calhan, Colorado, the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in El Paso County is one of the most unique outdoor open spaces in the state. Named after the colorful clays that were collected by American Indians to make paint, it's set on 750 acres and known for the amazing geologic formations that scatter the landscape, formed over thousands of years through erosion and weather.
In recent months, the area has seen a lot of visitors, with people out exploring the treasures of the state—which is wonderful. What's not wonderful is that not everyone is as respectful of the park as they should be. Larger crowds than usual have caused erosion and damage to trails and other areas, and over the summer and into recent months, the park has seen vandals come and spray paint on the rock formations, including streaks of paint, hearts, and words.
Other visitors have gone as far as carving their initials in rock formations around the park.
Some rock formations have even been knocked completely over from people climbing around on them, an activity that is not allowed and strongly discouraged by the park staff. Climbing on, painting, and excess wear and tear on the rocks will cause increased erosion and decay, as they're very fragile, and there's no way to go back and undo it.
In order to preserve what is still intact, and prevent future vandalism, park officials will now be putting up fences around overlook areas, as well as fencing off non-official trails, referred to as “social trails.” They have also started trying to get more help patrolling the park and monitoring for instances of vandalism.
Everything inside the park is protected by state law, even the plants, so any kind of vandalism, marking, or modifications are illegal, and those caught could face some legal consequences, including a $200 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second offense, and $500 for the third.
We all love and enjoy the many natural treasures of Colorado and want them to be around for generations of others to see as well. Most of us here in the state have great respect and reverence for the natural wonders that make our state so unique and work hard to preserve them. It is sad and disappointing to hear that places like the Paint Mines Interpretive Park are having to restrict access because people will not play by the rules.
What do you think about the new measures being taken at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park? How can park officials make sure no more damage happens? Sound off in the comments.