Respect Your Park, Leave No Trace

Graffiti in a National Monument. Sadly, it’s a thing.

I do a lot of hiking around Los Angeles, and it’s inevitable that I see vandalism. Damaged structures, stickers on signs, trampled plants, trash on the trail — every glimpse of destruction breaks my heart a little. It’s all so avoidable if we all just take little responsibility for ourselves and follow a few Leave No Trace principles.

But what I saw in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument at the Big Horn Mine Trail was especially egregious — an explosion of obviously illegal graffiti.

Street art can be beautiful in the right environment, especially if there’s a cultural or political message behind it, and it’s part of what makes our cities so vibrant. But the a street and a trail are very different places. But when you see graffiti not just in nature, but on nature, it’s jarring — it plucks you out of that indescribably perfect environmentality and tosses you back into the mucky pond of self indulgent humanity. There’s no relevant artistic value to it, it’s disrespectful to our planet, and offensive to all those of us who want to see this planet protected.

Here’s a sampling of the hideous sights you’ll see on the trail:

What did this tree ever do to you?
Street artist “Indecline” has all sorts of compelling political commentary happening on Instagram, and yet he blows his cred defacing a National Monument?
I don’t understand people who hike deep into the woods to vandalize nature, but I especially don’t understand why you’d use your full name. What’s next, Daniel and Bri, Social Security numbers?
Gaby Limon, you seem like a nice family gal on Instagram, so my question is, WHY??
Child abduction. It’s super funny you guys.
This was once the home to the most profitable gold mine in the San Gabriel Mountains, it’s historic, and it’s been defaced, multiple times.
A+J and D+P, I hope your relationship lasts longer than this decomposing tree, for your sake.
No dude, you’re not a phenom. Not. At. All.
Bananas are a useful trail snack for sure, but is it worth defacing a National Monument over?
Ooohhh look, ancient cave painting! Wait, never mind.
Blaze your own trees, man, not all of ours.

Look, I get it, the more people tag a trail the more it seems like an acceptable, maybe even fun, idea. And I’m aware that this trail has been cleaned up before, only to be tagged again. So let’s be grown ups for a minute. Let’s take some responsibility for ourselves, our park, our San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

This particular National Monument is currently up for review by the anti-environmental zealots in White House, so its future is on shaky ground. That means it’s up to us to protect this natural beauty for future generations. That protection starts with you, and all of us, and me too.

First step is telling the Department of Interior how important this and other National Monuments are to all of us.

Second step is proving how important this National Monument is to us by cleaning up this trail and keeping it that way for all future visitors.

Send me a message on Instagram (@jasonjourneyman) or an email (getmindfulnow<at>gmail.com) if you want to help. We’ll organize a clean up and some new signage at the trail head to discourage tagging.

This is our park, we have to defend it!

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**Urban Disconnection is a project of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument/Angeles National Forest Artist in Residence program, with the goal of inspiring Angelenos to explore, enjoy, and protect our majestic backyard.