The job of Josh Hansen, a park manager at Red Fleet State Park in Utah, should not be nearly as complicated as he gets. Part of Hansen's job is to keep people from ruining the park, which should be pretty easy given that the park is a lot of rock, water and desert. One of the main attractions of the park, however, is its impressive collection of dinosaur tracks preserved in 200 million year old rocks, and therein lies the problem.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hansen sees a giant The vandalism of valuable fossils is on the increase, and tourists regularly pick up large stone slabs and throw them into the nearby reservoir. Most frustrating is that the vandals often do not even realize what they are doing.
"It has become a pretty big problem," said Devan Chavez, a spokesman for the Utah Division of State Parks, the newspaper. "They just want to throw stones from the side, but what they do not recognize are those rocks they pick up, they are covered with dinosaur tracks."
The misguided visitors just want to see something splashing into the water and when As they go hunting for something they inevitably raise parts of the fossilized track. According to park officials, vandalism has risen in the last six months or so, and it's unclear how many of the fossils have been lost forever.
As for the fossilized trails that have already been thrown into the reservoir, the park is reportedly considering hiring a dive team to swim to the bottom of the lake and trying to regain whatever they can. Unfortunately, the rocks are likely to be severely damaged or partially destroyed, so salvaging may be in vain.
The park is currently building additional warning signs around the dinosaur tracks to let people know what they have done. The park has also posted the following message on its Facebook page to spread awareness:
The dinosaur track is deteriorating due to human impact. There was a significant impact on the track as individuals threw stones (mostly dinosaur tracks) into the water in the last 6 months. People from all over the country and around the world come to our park to see this amazing feature. It is not illegal to throw stones into the water, it is illegal to move these stones with tracks. Be aware that disturbing these stones is considered an act of vandalism. Many tracks are very different for the layman, but many are not. That's why it's so important not to disturb EVERY Rock on the Dinosaur Trail. You may not be able to tell if the stone you cast has imprinted millions of years of dinosaur traces into it or not.