Piece by piece, national parks are disappearing. People are essentially stealing natural resources from the land for their own enjoyment. The thefts, for the most part, remain undocumented. It is too difficult to tell when the natural resources are missing. According to this article in National Parks Traveler, “Parks and public lands are immensely inspiring to painters, musicians and writers, but when people chip away at ancient pictographs or paint in (or on) wild areas without permission, they incorrectly assume their right to expression trumps the right of everyone else to enjoy nature and cultural treasures unaltered”.
In Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, park managers estimate up to 12 tons of petrified wood is illegally removed from the park each year. Some have come to think of this wood as being cursed, and many people have tried to return it to the park. Often times the wood is accompanied by woeful letters of regret. Because of their unknown provenance (there is no way of knowing if they indeed came from the park), these specimens cannot be scattered back in the park; to do so would be to spoil those sites for research purposes. They are instead added to a pile at the park which sits alongside a private gravel service road.
Artists Ryan Thompson and Phil Orr have documented these stolen artifacts and have created a book. This book both displays some of the stolen artifacts, it displays many of the guilt ridden letters as well. See more about the book here.