“For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.”

Those words are atop the iconic Roosevelt Arch that greets  visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. On June 10th, 2016, a visitor from Texas decided to add his initials to the famous arch, in what he later descried as a  “a bad decision.”  According to a NPS press release, the man responsible was sentenced Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by U.S Magistrate Judge Mark Carman, who ordered him to serve three days in jail, pay a $250 restitution fee for repairs, and $40 in court fees. 

Completed nearly 113 years ago ( August 15th, 1903), the Roosevelt Arch has inspired millions to reconnect with nature and experience America’s Public Lands. It is a symbol for the National Parks and was built on a corner stone paced their by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Roosevelt Arch is one of those structures that is forever etched in your mind and is generally respected by all visitors.  The Roosevelt Arch is part of the Fort Yellowstone National Historic Landmark District. National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.

Damage to the Roosevelt Arch in Yellowstone National Park. NPS Image
Damage to the Roosevelt Arch in Yellowstone National Park. NPS Image

“Let this unfortunate act be a reminder to all that the cultural treasures of Yellowstone National Park require our care and protection to ensure that generations to come will enjoy their presence on the landscape,” said Yellowstone National Park Deputy Superintendent Steve Lobst.

Hopefully, the punishment helps send a message to the growing number of people who are vandalizing rocks, buildings and trees in our protected lands. We need to all practice Leave No Trace principles and respect areas for their significance and beauty. Be inspired, take a picture, sketch on a note pad with charcoal, write a sonnet, do anything you want that is artistic- just don’t ruin it for everyone else. Hopefully, when all of this is said and done, the man responsible will become an advocate for responsible use of public lands and help educate people on appropriate outdoor etiquette.