The Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park marred by vandals
Landscape photographer Kurt Lawson captured these images while on a photography trip to complete a special project about this area.
It seems like only yesterday, a few weeks ago really, that we were writing about the vandalism at Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon coast. Yet here we are again with yet another case of vandalism – this time in Death Valley, California's Racetrack playa. The area is known for its 'moving stones' and it appears that vandals have driven onto the playa and caused irreparable damage to the landscape.
The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park is a protected area in which large stones seem to move of their own accord across the playa. In reality they move whenever it rains – as the rain water freezes and winds cause the rocks (sometimes boulders of up to 600lbs) to move across the playa floor leaving a meandering trail behind them. Evidence of this was actually captured for the first time back in 2014. There are only two places in the world where this occurs naturally.
As he documented on his blog, landscape photographer Kurt Lawson was in the area scouting shooting locations for a project when he discovered the damage. He entered the protected area in the park and began to notice car tracks. It appeared that a group of individuals had driven a car across the the playa, thus carving car tracks permanently into an area where rain is a rarity.
|Deep tracks were carved across the rock trails that take years to form.|
What this means is that these tracks will be there for a very, very long time – if not forever. Some of the tire tracks cross trails made by the rocks. There are three parking lots in the Racetrack area, so vandals would have likely ignored the signs and at each one of them in order to carve their own paths through the playa as they left the designated parking areas.
|What appear to be initials have been chiseled about 1/8" deep into the rock.|
The type of damage that they caused isn't repairable. What's even more concerning is that whoever is responsible for it more than likely knew exactly what they were doing – there are 'No motor vehicles beyond this point' signs posted at every parking lot and along the roads between them.
|The area that was vandalized is well marked with these 'No motor vehicle' signs. You can see tire tracks off in the distance.|
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