BLM experiencing vandalism at Safford-area managed lands

Contributed Photo/Courtesy BLM: The cost to replace bullet-ridden signs along the route to the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area cost taxpayers $2,613.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has reported increased vandalism in BLM-managed lands in the Safford area. 

Recently reported incidents include shooting signage along Haekel Road leading to the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area and in areas of the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. 

The Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area is southeast of Safford and provides 2,000 acres of sand dunes utilized by off-road enthusiasts. The area also has camping spots and natural hot spring tubs to relax in after a day of riding. 

According to the Safford Field Office, staff have recently observed 35 signs riddled with bullets, leaving some nearly unreadable. The cost to replace the damaged signs came to $2,613 of taxpayer money that could have been better utilized for site maintenance and improvements. 

Additionally, signage and a toilet were riddled with bullet holes at the Indian Breadrocks Recreation Area in the Dos Cabezas Mountains.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy BLM: Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area has also been vandalized with bullet holes.

Indian Bread Rocks Picnic Area is roughly 20 miles east of Willcox and seven miles south of Bowie. Elevations range from 4,080 to 7,500 feet through diverse terrain with steep mountain slopes, granite outcroppings, and canyon floors full of vegetation. According to the BLM, the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness provides “outstanding opportunities for hiking, backpacking, camping, rock scrambling, and sightseeing.”

It is a Class-A misdemeanor to damage federal property, and conviction of such an offense can carry up to a maximum of one-year incarceration and a $100,000 fine. 

To help keep signs from being vandalized and money appropriated for the recreations sites spent on the sites themselves, the BLM asks those to report any vandalism on BLM-managed lands in the Safford area by calling the Safford Field Office at (928) 348-4400.