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Scratch by scratch, vandals are destroying 9 Mile's treasures

When CW defaced the site in 1881, there was no law against it. Blaze, however, is in deep trouble.
Even this panel of petroglyphs 25 feet above the canyon floor has been marred by vandalism. In the upper right are the letters "ilsom" and below them, "Nov 8."
Joe was fond of Nancy. Another inscription nearby declares that his girlfriend was named Amber. He also goes by "Joepeep" and Joe M.
Joe strikes again in the top center of this panel.

Sun Advocate associate editor

It cost $2.1 million over the past two years to protect the ancient Native American art and artifacts in Nine Mile Canyon during road building.

That's close to 10 percent of the total project cost, according to Brian Barton of Jones & DeMille Engineers.

That being the case, it could be argued that the damage done by Joe, Blaze, Nancy, Amber and others at the First Site archaeological spot might be calculated in the millions.

Those are the names scratched into the rock where petroglyphs and pictographs have stood hundreds or thousands of years.

Two years ago, somebody build a campfire and then smeared charcoal graffiti at the site. It took the work of a professional restorer to remove the insult.

There is a $4,000 reward for information in that incident. It was offered by a consortium of government, industrial and private interests. It remains uncollected.

The other vandalism is much worse, being carved right into the rock with the artwork.

"It's a mess, isn't it?" said County Commissioner John Jones in a conversation about the First Site vandalism.

At the last meeting of the Nine Mile Canyon Cooperative Board, Jones and Bureau of Land Management Price District Manager Trish Clabaugh began talking about what could be done to prevent more damage.

Their discussions are continuing.

Jones thinks some signage along the lines of "help protect the works of art" might work. It is a positive message, and if a better one comes along, the signs can be changed easily enough.

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