New techniques could stop vandals at preserve

Pool Sprite (Amphianthus pusillus)
Pool Sprite (Amphianthus pusillus)

By Trent Faris - bio l email

LANCASTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) – In the middle of Lancaster County lies a stone tablet that spreads for 40-plus acres.  It is a wildlife animal and nature preserve, called 40-acre rock.

You see it before you hit the trail: Nicole, Justin and Chelsea were here. The names spray painted on the road.

From the trail head to the entrance to the actual 40-acre rock -- every where there is a rock there's paint.

"There's graffiti everywhere," said hiker, Elizabeth Price.

Price brought her friend to 40-acre rock today for his first trip to the natural wonder.

"It's a lot of fun a lot of trails you can go into a cave there's a lot of things to do," said Price.

However, she can't miss the graffiti on the surrounding rock.

"It's upsetting because it's such a beautiful place to see it messed up isn't that fun."

Conservationists say there's not much they can do to what vandals have done here.   Only Mother Nature and some rain can wash the paint away; however there is something they can do to make sure taggers won't strike again.

With help from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources they're using a new technique, burning a special type of wood on top of the spray paint.

"It's a low temperature burn just enough to cause the spray paint to flake off the rock," said Cpl. Shawn Hanna, with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Not only does the burning help remove the paint over time, it prevents future graffiti.

The idea of burning off the spray paint came from a similar technique of saving ancient cave paintings in the American Southwest.

"It's like spray painting the inside off a chimney when it leaves that soot on the ground you can't spray paint on top of it, it can be brushed right off," said Hanna.

Conservationists can't just burn the whole rock because there are 3 endangered plant species grow here.

So, it'll take time to remove what vandals have done.

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