According to their media release, National Park Service (NPS) rangers caught the Tennessee man in the act of spray painting the TN 96 bridge on Natchez Trace Parkway. The 20-year-old Nashville vandal was first spotted by a NPS employee, who then reported his crimes to law enforcement officers.
Soon after, Williamson County sheriff deputies arrived on scene and detained the individual. A NPS law enforcement officer followed, taking the man into custody to be processed. The Nashville man was then issued citations for multiple violations, including trespassing and vandalism.
Now, Natchez Trace Parkway officials must clean up the graffiti. The 20-year-old vandal will be billed for the work, however.
“The Natchez Trace Parkway’s designed landscape and scenery contribute to its status as a national park. Graffiti degrades the scenery and has a negative impact on the visitor experience,” offers Natchez Trace Parkway Chief of Resource Management Chris Smith.
“The NPS’s mission is to protect cultural and natural resources that belong to the American public. Our goal is to ensure this type of destruction doesn’t happen,” Smith cites.
As NPS adds, “Graffiti is unsightly and damaging to the surface de-faced. It can take park staff hours to remove and may require using specialized equipment to access hard to reach locations. Graffiti and other forms of vandalism to park resources are harmful and illegal.”
Nashville Man’s Graffiti Defaces National Park Lands, Possibly For Good
Sadly, the damage graffiti does to sites often alters them forever. And as the Nashville man is learning, graffiti is a crime. If caught, a person can be cited, “with a mandatory appearance before the federal magistrate, which could lead to up to six months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine,” NPS explains.
The identity of the Tennessee man is not public. But if you observe vandalism in progress in Natchez Trace, contact their NPS Dispatch center at 1-800-300-PARK (7275).
Similar situations in other national parks show the damage graffiti causes, and the work it takes to attempt restoration.
“Rangers and volunteers in Zion have been spending hours cleaning unnecessary vandalism in the park such as rock carvings and scratches, stickers, permanent markers, and in this case, spray paint,” Zion National Park cited in a video update in April of 2022.
“Vandalism like this not only greatly impacts the visitor experience in the park, but it is also extremely difficult to remove,” officials added. “This piece covered 150 square feet and took a total of 35 hours of work. 7 Rangers and Volunteers that had to be taken from their regularly scheduled duties in order to help with the repair.”
Vandalism isn’t just spray paint or the defacing of structures, such as the Nashville vandal carried out. Zion cites that placing stickers on anything, carving into trees or rocks, and other acts are just as harmful.
We know Outsiders are always top-rate stewards of our national parks. But never hesitate to alert NPS staff of others who are not. You’ll be preserving these magnificent places for the generations to come.