The U.S. Forest Service is looking for information and individuals connected to vandalism to an archaeological site known as Jordan Cave near the Jordan Trailhead parking lot in Sedona, Arizona.
According to the Forest Service, several people were seen removing and throwing rocks from the walls of the site over a steep embankment. Some of the rocks were even dug from the prehistoric floor of the site and thrown over the embankment.
In an effort to identify the individuals involved, the Forest Service has released an image of three people of interest.
“Damaging the resource of any kind is illegal and, depending on the extent of the crime, something could be punishable up to $20,000, possible jail time and restitution,” Brienne Magee, public information office with the Coconino National Forest, told AZCentral.
“Even just moving rocks around on the surface within the site, even if they don’t leave the site, still destroys that information,” Travis Bone, archaeologist with the U.S. Forest Service at the Red Rock Ranger District, told AZCentral.
He also said the cave had been an archaeological site for about one year and that more information needed to be collected and studied.
“These prehistoric sites are rare treasures on our public lands and the Forest Service takes every effort to preserve and protect those resources,” said Patrol Captain Jon Nelson in a news release from the Forest Service. “Once these sites are damaged, it removes a piece of the puzzle of how past communities lived and existed over time that cannot be replaced. It not only destroys scientific evidence, it denies the public from seeing these areas as they were left by the Pueblo people who lived here centuries ago.”
The about 800-year-old cave was once a dwelling for the Pueblo, who consider it a sacred place. The area is not open to the public.
Anyone with information regarding this vandalism should contact Officer Mike O’Neil at 928-203-7512.