Digital "Tracks" Help Rangers Solve Vandalism Case at Capitol Reef National Park
Tracking down bad guys in the Old West usually required skill in following some literal footprints in the sand, but a case at Capitol Reef National Park with connections to some famous outlaws was recently solved by rangers adept at following a different kind of tracks—those left in cyberspace.
Capitol Reef National Park, in Utah's rugged canyon country, has plenty of connections to the Old West. A side trip and trail off the park's Scenic Drive takes visitors to Cassidy Arch, "named for turn of the century outlaw Butch Cassidy, who is thought to have hidden occasionally in Grand Wash."
Further along the drive, a short trail leads to a archeological site where early pioneers and a few infamous characters from years past, including Butch Cassidy, Matt Warner, and Silvertip inscribed their names on the rock face.
In August 2010, rangers discovered that vandals had etched at least new eight names and the current year into the walls of the alcove near the historic inscriptions. Finding those responsible in such situations seems like a long shot, but in this case, good investigative work found some important clues, not in the face of the cliff, but on Facebook.
The responsible individuals posted information about a recent family reunion in the park on the popular site, and rangers were able to follow that digital trail to the suspects.
According to a park spokesperson, once they had been identified, the members of the group took full responsibility for the incident, and paid a total of $6,045 for site restoration under the authority provided by the Park System Resource Protection Act.
Professional restoration of the site will get underway this year.