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‘It’ll never be the same’: Repair work on ancient petroglyph may take months

Vandalism to the historic "Birthing Scene" petroglyph near Moab. Emergency efforts to clean up the ancient petroglyph Birthing Rock got underway last week, but crews say it may take months before the damage will be fully undone.  Image has been blurred. (Sherri Costanza)

MOAB, Utah — Emergency efforts to clean up the ancient petroglyph Birthing Rock got underway last week, but crews say it may take months to fully repair the damage.

Petroglyph repair may take weeks, even months

Someone physically etched much of the graffiti into the rock, making it more difficult to remove. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management must now contract a professional conservator group to restore the landmark. 

“It’s just disheartening that folks just don’t understand the importance of preserving things,” Nicollee Gaddis-Wyatt, field manager of the BLM Moab Field Office, told KSL.com. “It’s not OK to go and deface anything on public lands […] You’re erasing the history and the important stories of the indigenous folks that were here before us.”

Officials don’t know how long the restoration process will take, as few groups qualified to handle cases like this exist. It may take weeks to find the right group to contract, on top of the weeks-long clean-up. 

Even after the petroglyph is restored, state archaeologists fear Birthing Rock may never be the same. 

BLM officials said there haven’t been any updates in the investigation of the vandalism. However, they are offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who has information.  Whoever defaced the petroglyphs left behind racist and vulgar messaging.

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