With grand vistas and endless miles of sand and rocks, Death Valley is not subtle, but it is very delicate. It is a collection of geologic wonders, remnants of ancient civilizations, rare animal species and natural wonders. Unfortunately, some people have felt the need to take pieces of the park with them or drive their vehicles over iconic landscapes or through fences to bathe in the pools of endangered species.
In December, visitors drove their off-highway vehicles on the playa at the Racetrack, known for rocks that move by themselves, and Badwater, the lowest point in the Western hemisphere, and left scars that will not go away soon. According to a press release from Death Valley National Park, once tracks are established, others will surely follow those paths.
Abby Wines, public information officer for Death Valley said crews from colleges in Southern California have worked to rake and brush away tracks in the past, but it still takes nature to get the landscape back to its natural state.
There are signs and now, reinforced posts will be added along the Badwater shoreline to keep vehicles out.
The winner for the best name for vandals is a Canadian group called High on Life. According to the High On Life website, www.sundayfundayz.com, it started by a group of friends that started a Jackass knock-off, Dumbass. They saved their money and started traveling and documenting their adventures while selling schwag.
In March 2016, three members of the group were caught riding their bicycles at Badwater. They were cited for a bicycle off the roadway, operating a drone and commercial photography without a permit. The three agreed to pay a $1,000 fine.
The most recent violation came in March of this year. Fossil footprints, left by prehistoric animals walking through a muddy lakeshore, have been removed from the park. The tracks are 3 to 5 million years old. Park rangers recently discovered that fossil footprints were removed from Death Valley National Park. The park is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible. As of April 4, the reward was still available.