The people expressing outrage might be at fault, too.
Oregon State Police are on the hunt for a group of vandals who toppled over an iconic rock in Cape Kiwanda State Park.
When the rock was found ruined on September 1, the Oregon State Parks assumed that natural erosion had finally made the rock cave in. There was no evidence to the contrary.
“No one was injured, fortunately; but the rubble serves as a sobering reminder of the ever present dangers of our fragile coastal rocks and cliffs,” they wrote on Facebook.
Five days later, video emerged showing a group of people toppling over the rock.
“The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, in cooperation with the Oregon State Police, will review the incident immediately and decide how best to respond,” the organization amended its statement on Tuesday. “The department takes vandalism of a state park's natural features seriously.”
The vandals could face a $435 fine and possible criminal charges for destruction of a natural resource once apprehended. Several people have reached out to the parks bureau with social media screenshots and potential leads.
David Kalas, who recorded the incriminating video, told local station KATU that he approached the vandals after they knocked the rock down and asked why. “The reply I got was: their buddy broke their leg earlier because of that rock. They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard, and that they did the world or Oregon a favor,” Kalas said.
A few weeks ago, a 16-year-old boy injured his “leg or foot while jumping from a rock,” at the park local news station KOIN reported. He was rescued by Coast Guard and taken to the hospital. Oregon State Parks spokesperson Chris Havel told Travel + Leisure that he had “no idea” if the incidents were linked. Oregon State Police did not reply to requests for comment.
The rock is one of the most popular places in the park to take pictures. But it is strictly off-limits to visitors. In the past two years six people have died in this forbidden area of the park, all aged 16 to 25.
It sits at the edge of a sandstone cliff which has the potential to crumble without any warning. “We put up signs for a very good reason,” Havel told T+L. ”It’s a very fragile and dangerous place.”
Natural erosion would have eventually brought the iconic rock down if the vandals did not get to it first, Havel said. But the natural erosion was likely exacerbated by trespassing visitors looking to shoot an impressive picture.
Many bemoaning the fall of the rock on social media shared images of themselves on top of the rock. Climbing over a fence and onto a fragile rock not only defies park rules, it made the rock more susceptible to damage.
“While it’s great that people are upset about the damage to the landscape, they should take a moment to reflect the next time they visit any park and jump a fence,” Havel said.