A social media post of a Utah couple’s October trip to Lake Powell — and the moment they carved their names into the rock near an arch formation — has drawn attention from people wanting the couple cited for vandalism.
The post, made Oct. 12 by Instagram user @aprildaisy_, shows a woman smiling at the camera while her significant other is facing a rock wall. The man is identified by his Instagram account, with the name Damion Sponbeck.
April’s message reads: “Cheers to tequila shots and fun times. @sponbeck29 Lake Powell was so much fun with you. Also thanks for carving our names in the rock under the arch.” This is followed by a double-heart emoji and a beer glass emoji.
April responded on the same post to one person’s criticism: “There was someone’s name under the arch in 1975. Plus a couple other hundred names.”
A screengrab of the Instagram post was highlighted Monday morning on Reddit, with the headline “Utah Marine carves name into arch at Lake Powell, defacing public lands and brags about it.”
“What is so damn difficult about leaving things alone so others can enjoy the outdoors?” the initial Reddit poster commented. “Hate this, and hope they get fined greatly. Stop decorating trees in the mountains too. Leave no trace is not that hard.”
More comments followed, many of them offering to report the couple to the National Park Service, which manages the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area where Lake Powell sits, or the Bureau of Land Management.
On Monday morning, April’s Instagram account — including the post with evidence of the couple’s rock-carving — was publicly accessible. She took it private Monday afternoon. Sponbeck’s Instagram account already was shown as private.
The couple’s corresponding Facebook accounts show the two are from Eagle Mountain, and that Sponbeck is or was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Calls seeking comment from the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offices, and from BLM offices in Salt Lake City and Phoenix, were not returned Monday. Many federal employees have been furloughed since Saturday, with the partial shutdown of the federal government.
But federal officials take such vandalism cases seriously. In a similar case this summer, as an Idaho man was sentenced for scratching graffiti into southern Utah’s Corona Arch, U.S. Attorney for Utah John W. Huber said such incidents are “troubling to us and anyone who values Utah’s beautiful public lands. People travel from around the world to visit these spectacular resources.”
Neither April nor Sponbeck responded Monday morning to messages via Facebook requesting comment.
It’s not the first time Instagram and vandalism on federal land have been linked.
Instagrammer Casey Nocket found herself banned from all national parks, and sentenced to 200 hours of community service, after Reddit users alerted the National Park Service of her 2014 posts of her acrylic paintings on rocks in six parks — including Utah’s Zion and Canyonlands.
In early 2017, actor Vanessa Hudgens (of “High School Musical” fame) paid $1,000 in restitution after she carved a heart, with her name and that of boyfriend Austin Butler, in a red rock wall on U.S. Forest Service land near Sedona, Ariz. Hudgens posted evidence of that vandalism on her Instagram account.