Trail markings or graffiti? Round Mountain conundrum

Illegal markings on the Ridge Trail at Round Mountain Park have some park users miffed. Photo by David Abbott.

An unprecedented spring in the Copper Corridor has seen an explosion of wildflowers on Round Mountain Park, but there has been another explosion of color as well, after someone or a group of people painted unauthorized trail markings on the eastern trails of the park.

“Someone may have thought they were helping, but the city looks at it as defacing the natural environment of the park,” Globe City Manager Paul Jepson said. “It’s important for people to understand: This is graffiti.”

The spray-painted markings are on swaths of the Boulder Canyon, Box Canyon and Ridge trails in several colors from Navy blue to bright shades of red and yellow-green. There are arrows pointing trail directions and markings on trails that are already clearly marked by rocks lining the paths and cairns — piles of rocks used as a universal way to mark hiking trails.

Parks in Globe are regulated through City Code Chapter 11, Parks and Recreation. There are three sections of the code addressing oversight, facilities, and Article 11-3, which covers City Park Rules and Regulations. Section 11-3-4 prohibits vandalism.

Graffiti prohibitions are also addressed in City Code 10-8, which defines it as “An inscription or drawing carved or drawn on a stationary structure so as to be discernible from the public right-of-way and which degrades the beauty, appearance or value of property,” but that portion of city code is directed toward buildings and is under the jurisdiction of Code Enforcement. Globe city parks are under the purview of Public Works.

While most park usage is hikers and families, both local and visitors, there are events that take place at the park that sometimes require trail marking.

The Sunrise Challenge, a June fundraiser for Globe Rotary, is one such event. After having an issue with the city over spray-painted marking several years ago though, the Rotary now uses chalk, ribbons and other ways to mark the race routes, particularly in the rugged areas of the park where the trails are difficult to follow.

In order for sanctioned events to take place at the park, organizers must apply for a special license and adhere to defined usage protocols that include behavior in the parks and leaving the facility in proper condition after the event is over.

“We’re happy to accommodate events in our parks, but they must get a permit and we will teach them specifically how we want them to clean up,” Jepson said. “We respect our natural environment and take it very seriously: People should respect that.”

If park users see anyone defacing parks, they should call 9-1-1, Jepson said. The operator can then direct the caller to the proper agency if it is not an emergency. In order to have a public record of the incident, the person reporting should be prepared to use their real name and address. According to Jepson, that is usually the stumbling block to getting reports, as many people prefer to remain anonymous usually out of fear of retribution.

“The vast majority [of park users] are environmentally conscious and it’s not like some of the graffiti issues we deal with in the city,” Globe Police Chief Dale Walters said. “It’s a matter of intent: If we catch them, we have to try to educate them, because, usually, they don’t have malicious intent.”

Walters believes whoever marked the trails was trying to be helpful and one solution might be to rethink official trail markings. He is also considering recruiting students from the Globe High School JROTC program or his nascent police cadet program to spend community service time working on the parks.

Round Mountain Park represents decades of work by former councilmember and longtime mayor Stan Gibson, who conceptualized the park with several other Globe citizens, including Richard Powers, in 1971.

The 360-plus-acre park has six official trails that total nearly seven miles in length.

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