GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – Park rangers say graffiti found along a popular Garfield County trail was so fresh you “could still smell the spray paint.”
Volunteers spotted the graffiti on trees, rocks and other items along the Hanging Lake Trail last Thursday. The graffiti included the word “Blest” and an arrow pointing to the right.
Rangers say illegal parking and visitors swimming and walking out on the lake’s log have also become problems recently as people flock to the scenic spot. Last year, more than 137,000 people visited Hanging Lake during the summer months.
There currently aren’t any rangers patrolling the park and there won’t be anyone in place until late May. Because of that, park officials may have to close the park until they have staff in place to keep an eye on things.
“At the rate we’re going, we may have to close the trail until we can get our summer staffing on board,” said District Ranger Aaron Mayville. He added that because cleanup of the graffiti will cost about $3,000 in staff time, that will cut into time he would normally spend hiring summer rangers.
This isn’t the first time park officials have had to clean up vandalism at Hanging Lake. Just last year, the park had to close so volunteers could clean up graffiti on benches, bridges and rock walls.
Vandalism also has been a problem recently at Daniels Park in Douglas County, where visitors have been leaving behind trash and smoldering illegal campfires and spray painting graffiti on rocks.
As the number of visitors continues to climb, the Forest Service is in the process of developing a long-term plan for Hanging Lake, with the hope of having a plan in place by next summer.
In the meantime, anyone with information about the vandalism at the park last week should contact the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District at 970-827-5715.
Anyone caught vandalizing federal property could face a fine and/or time in court.
“People who vandalize and blatantly disregard the rules have no business being on the National Forest, and we plan on finding and charging the individual responsible,” Mayville said.