Graffiti Removal Project
A project has begun this
year to remove the graffiti covering the walls of
This project has been many years in the making. Kyle and I have long considered how the appreciation of the cave would change if we could somehow remove all of the graffiti and trash. Our thinking was if we could get the community involved in restoring the cave, then interest and appreciation would increase to manage and maintain the cave. The only missing ingredient was getting attention. We thought the attention might come as a result of most all neglected cave resources - a rescue. Christmas 2002, it happened. Now every cave restoration idea was more given more serious consideration by the BLM.
Graffiti - Before and After
Brandon Kowallis collecting trash in one of the highly tagged rooms
the past, we tried several methods of removing graffiti - chemicals and wire
brushes powered with drills. None of the methods proved efficient enough to
successfully complete the project on any reasonable time frame. Swapping
ideas back and forth, our colleague, Jason Knight told us about his experience using
sandblasting to remove graffiti at
How does it work?
Graffiti is removed using portable sandblasting equipment. An air compressor on the surface pumping through several thousand feet of hose delivers the high pressure needed to shoot thousands of small glass beads that abrade off the layers of graffiti. The layers of paint come off just about as fast as they were sprayed on. Tarps and vacuums sweepers are used to recycle the beads and to keep them from being left in the cave.
The sandblasting technique can actually remove layers of skin and get caught in your eyes. Keeler's outfit includes all of the needed safety equipment. He has hoods and goggles to protect the eyes. Respirators are included to keep the beads from being inhaled. He also has a few sets of caving helmets and lights to help outfit local volunteers.
This is a very laborious
restoration project. Possibly the largest scaled cave restoration project
ever started in
Kyle Voyles rigged and ready to remove graffiti from the Boardwalk
Scout, Jon Albrethsen, removing graffiti with sandblasting gun
Weekend #1 - Jan 14 to 16
project had the great fun of dodging
flood didn't stop us; the first weekend (Jan 15-16) was a success!
Approximately 60 to 100 tags were removed by 35 volunteers over the 2 days.
Graffiti was removed from the cave's entrance to the Boardwalk. Volunteers
Weekend #2 - Feb 4 to 6
weekend went much more smoothly as St. George recovers from its flood. With
The highlight of this weekend was the great press coverage! The Spectrum newspaper had a front page article covering the efforts of the project. This positive coverage will greatly help create public interest and support for the BLM's effort in producing a comprehensive Cave Management Plan for the cave.
Weekend #3 - Feb 18 to 21
This was a weird weekend, as far as normal procedures went.
Kyle's wife, Maria, was ready to deliver so Kyle commuted from his house to
Doug Powell with safety gear
Weekend #4 - March 4 to 6
law of entropy kicks in. This weekend, as Jason Knight would put it, was
"epic." Kyle was at home during the weekend with his new daughter
Kendra and helping his wife recover from a few complications. At the last
minute most everyone backed out--only 3 people showed up. However, the lack
of people wasn't the problem. We were able to sneak the equipment from its
BLM holding. While in transport the toe hitch completely detached from the
vehicle's frame. Jason and I tried to rig the hitch back on using biners and
rope. However, at 12:30 a.m. departing
Weekend #5 - March 18 to 20
All repairs were completed and work continued with 9 hard-working volunteers. We have reached the bottom of the cave and the farthest point the gear needs to be hauled into. We pushed down the main route into the Big Room, the Fanny Flume, and started work on removing graffiti at the bottom of the cave. Besides some unexpected strong winds and light snow, everything went very smoothly.
Weekend #6 - April 1 to 3
Work continued at the bottom of the cave with 7 participants. Most all of the graffiti at the bottom was removed expect the extreme southern end. Amazingly, we had a full weekend without any rain and the high was in the mid-70s.
Weekend #7 - April 15 to 17
project has reached completion. This weekend 12 volunteer finished the bottom
section of the cave only leaving graffiti in the Sandbox Room. At the
conclusion of the weekend, all of the gear was removed from the bottom of the
cave and prepared to be transported to
We added flagged routes. White flagging through the South Entrance to the bottom of the Big Room and green flagging from the North Entrance to the Boardwalk on the white flagged route. Hopeful many more routes will be flagged in the future.
The last weekend has been cancelled due to numerous conflicts and reaching a nice stopping place. Maybe in next year we will look into reserving the equipment again to focus effort in removing graffiti from the areas accessed from the North Entrance.
Jason Ballenski removing graffiti from a high ledge
the end, this project is completely changing how
Specials Thanks to all of the Volunteers!
The success of this project is because of their continued support.
Jan 14 to 16 Weekend: Kyle Voyles (Project Leader,
BLM contact), Ray Keeler (Equipment Owner), Jon Jasper, Jason Knight,
Feb 4 to 6
Weekend: Kyle Voyles (Project Leader, BLM contact), Jon Jasper,
Feb 18 to 21 Weekend: Kyle Voyles (Project Leader, BLM contact), Jon Jasper, Doug Powell, Max Powell, Mike Walsh, Max Walsh, Miles?, and Mike?.
March 4 to 6 Weekend: Jon Jasper, Jason Knight, Ted Smith, Kyle Voyles, and Darrell Voyles
March 18 to 20 Weekend: Kyle Voyles, Darrell Voyles,
April 1 to 3 Weekend: Kyle Voyles, Jon Jasper,
April 15 to 17 Weekend: Kyle Voyles, Darrell Voyles,
Map showing the project's final progress
Copyright © 2005 Jon Jasper
Maintained by Jon Jasper - last updated November 28, 2005