Two men fined for defacing petroglyphs

Two Montrose men will have to pay more than $8,000 in fines and restitution for defacing petroglyphs by scrawling their names over them on public lands near Gateway.

Defendants Oscar Ortega-Moreno and Sergio Corona-Venzor were sentenced Tuesday in Grand Junction by Colorado U.S. District Court Magistrate Gudrun Rice.

The men jointly will have to pay $5,250 immediately to the Bureau of Land Management to mitigate the damages that were incurred March 3, 2007, according to court records.

Rice increased stipulated fines of $500 to $1,150 each for both men during Tuesday’s hearing.

The defendants appeared at court and were aided by a Spanish-speaking interpreter. The men, who did not think they had done anything wrong when they wrote on the rocks, pleaded guilty to a single charge of defacing an archaeological resource.

Vanessa Delgado, a public affairs specialist with the BLM, said the art is believed to have been created by the Anasazi, and it dated from 1000 to 1200 A.D.

Delgado said the men, who were working construction at a nearby ranch at the time, carved their first names and their dates of birth over the rock art. Local ranchers and a BLM officer worked to connect the vandalism to the men, who later confessed.

“It’s something that the BLM really takes seriously, that we clean up and restore,”  Delgado said of the art panels. “Whenever something like this happens, it is disheartening.”

Attorney Colleen Scissors said her client, Corona-Venzor, wrote his name on the rock as a sort of marker to someday show his children, not realizing the significance of the petroglyphs, which are in abundance in his native country of Mexico. It is not a crime in Mexico to deface rock art, the men told the BLM.

Scissors said both men are hardworking, and her client was embarrassed by the incident and had saved money in advance in anticipation of paying the debt.

Delgado said there are about 40,000 such historical sites on Colorado’s BLM land, but only about 7 percent are inventoried and maintained.

The site of the vandalism is about a half-mile hike from the Dolores River off Colorado Highway 141, south of Gateway.


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