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Some Jerk Vandalized The Walls Of Starved Rock State Park

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Jun 3, 2016 5:29PM

Starved Rock State Park vandalism (Photo courtesy of Kendall Cramer)

Huge crowds turned out over the holiday weekend to visit the lush foliage and sandstone canyons and caves at Starved Rock State Park this weekend. But sadly not everyone was respectful of the natural beauty: some jerks brought in paint and went to town on the park's delicate sandstone walls.

"It’s pretty self-absorbed and selfish," site superintendent Kerry Novak tells Chicagoist.

The vandalism has tarnished the sandstone walls that have been thousands of years in the making. Park officials said removing the vandalism won't be easy and it could be expensive. Novak said that today they have someone using soft wire brushes to try to remove the paint, which is a relatively less obtrusive method.

"They’re somewhat delicate so in our cleanup we don’t want to do more damage than we have to," Novak said. "You certainly don’t want to change the character."

If those wire brushes don't work, they may try to bring in a sandblaster. That will be expensive, since these walls are in a remote area in Ottawa Canyon on the east end of their trail system. That could make it difficult to haul in heavy equipment. They might try to bring in a paint and graffiti remover. No matter what they do, the sandstone walls, which currently have a weathered look, will never be the same.

"I'm just more worried about what the wall is going to look like once we’re done," Novak said.

Starved Rock State Park vandalism (Photo courtesy of Kendall Cramer)

Kendall Cramer, a volunteer who hikes Starved Rock on a weekly basis, said that graffiti is often a problem on signs, tables and benches throughout the park, but increasingly he's been seeing more people engraving the sandstone. He snapped photos of the painted sandstone, which he says happened over the weekend. He said that trash is also a huge problem in the park.

"We're not part of an ancient civilization," Cramer wrote to Chicagoist. "We don't need to write our names on rocks for people to know we were there. We can tag ourselves on Facebook now."

People who want to aid in the effort to restore the sandstone rock can donate their time and money to the Starved Rock Foundation, Novak says.

Cramer writes that he would also like to see a balance restored between tourism and conservation efforts:

I understand the value of Starved Rock State Park to the regional economy. Tourists bring much needed tax dollars to nearby communities. However, I believe it is necessary to examine the balance between conservation and tourism. The two must complement each other. The park needs capacity standards, entrance fees, and more conservation officers. More importantly, we need a change in the mindset of the park visitors. This is our park and it is being destroyed.

We've heard complaints from readers saying that the crowds are getting really big at the attraction that is less than 100 miles out of town. Novak said that thankfully no one got hurt this weekend, however, this weekend was one of the most crowded on record: he says 94,452 visitors came through over the Memorial Day holiday.