Tips for Protecting the Past
#1 - Do not write on, touch, shoot at, remove, tamper with, or attempt to repair any cultural resource. Even the oils in your skin can damage rock art.
#2 - Do not apply anything, including water, to rock art or any cultural resource. If you think vandalism can be repaired, do not take matters into your own hands. Please notify the appropriate land manager of the vandalism or call 800-722-3998.
#3 - Do not climb or sit on structural walls. Do not lean on any component of the structure. Do not enter doorways. (Some structures are stabilized for visitors to enter through doors but most are not. Do not enter doorways unless it explicitly allowed from the land manager or official agency.)
#4 - Always be aware of your pets and children. If your child can pick up a rock, they have the potential to cause irreparable harm to sacred places. Do not let your child out of your sight and always watch them closely. You can also consider bringing a quiet, harmless distraction to keep your child from scratching rock art, throwing rocks at cultural resources, or climbing on structures. Likewise, do not bring your pets near to any location with a potential for sub-surface artifacts or structures as they may climb on and/or knock down walls or dig up burials and/or artifacts. It is advised that you leash pets away from protected sites.
#5 - Do not build cairns. It may impact artifacts and guide people to sensitive cultural areas.
#6 - Use utmost caution when disclosing unknown or little-known cultural resources. Even well-established hikers, photographers, and otherwise respectful visitors can have an impact on future vandalism. Some experts estimate that every person told brings an average of three people back. As a general rule, if you would not trust an individual with your credit card or social security number, it is unwise to trust them with irreplaceable vestiges of the past.
#7 - Use caution when posting photographs of little-known cultural resources in any public or semi-public format. The location could be revealed by the topography seen in the photographs. It could also be revealed by the order in which the photographs are taken or posted online. If you are presenting photographs, be sure to jumble the order in which they were taken and remove any images that reveal landscape features that could be identified from satellite imagery.
#8 - Be sure to verify that your camera, especially a smartphone camera, is not recording GPS locations within your photograph’s EXIF data (information that is recorded in addition to the image). This information can be extracted by others when they are posted online. Keep in mind, in most cases, GPS locations are being recorded whenever the GPS is active on the smartphone. If you regularly use your phone to browse maps, your photographs likely contain exact GPS coordinates. Even if you do not regularly use the GPS, your photographs may contain GPS locations. Please refer to online guides to determine how to check your photographs for location data. If you find that your camera is recording the location, you can block your camera from accessing the device’s GPS. There are also a variety of tools that can save a copy of your image with location data removed. Again, as every device is unique, refer to an online guide.
#9 - Never remove any artifacts or objects. These vestiges of the past contain deep meaning and significance, both to present-day tribes and archaeologists. Not only is it unethical to remove cultural resources, it is also illegal. It is important to leave everything as you found it.
#11 - Objects that may appear to be trash (such as old cans, bottles, nails, etc) may be historic and valuable to researchers. Be sure to leave these objects where you found them.
#12 - Always stay on designated roads and do not pioneer trails or utilize illegally pioneered trails with your motorized vehicle.
#13 - Do not litter or leave trash and always pack out everything you bring in. It is also advised that you do not consume food around cultural sites as it may precipitate damages from rodents and other animals scavenging for crumbs.
#14 - Do not camp at or near cultural areas. Not only does the heat, smoke, and soot directly impact the site, but the charcoals also provide abundant material for vandals to inflict damage. Also, be sure to use existing fire rings or use your own fire pan. Check your local fire regulations to determine where and when fires are allowed.
#15 - Don't use climbing equipment (including ropes) to access cultural sites.
#16 - Always obey posted signs, official agencies, and authorities.
#17 - Report any new vandalism to the respective land manager or call 800-722-3998.
#18 - Encourage others to practice ethical visitation practices.