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2 visitors captured on video destroying ancient rock formations at Lake Mead


By Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

(CNN) — Two visitors at Lake Mead National Recreation Area were captured on video destroying ancient rock formations and park rangers are seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspects.

Video shows two visitors who scaled towering russet-colored rock formations along the park’s Redstone Dune Trail and were shoving wide slabs of sandstone to the ground. A young girl screams as the stone topples and crumbles to dust.

Damage to the federally-protected formations, which were shaped over time out of 140 million-year-old sand dunes, is irreversible. Recreation area spokesperson John Haynes called the destruction “appalling.”

“Why on earth would you do this to this area that’s so beautiful? It’s one of my favorite places in the park and they’re up there just destroying it. I don’t understand that,” Haynes told CNN affiliate KVVU.

The video was taken the evening of April 7, according to KVVU. Park rangers urged anyone who was on the trail at the time or who may have information to submit a tip.

The men are suspected of vandalism, the recreation area said in a social media post. If caught, the suspects could face federal charges, jail time or large fines, Haynes told KVVU.

The vast recreation area covers 1.5 million acres of breathtaking mountain views, canyon trails and two vital reservoirs that extend across the Nevada and Arizona border. Water sports at the Lake Mead reservoir are a major draw for the park’s 6 million annual visitors, but extreme drought in the West has caused the lake’s water levels to plummet in recent years, exposing sunken boats and several sets of human remains.

Due to the park’s vast size, visitors play a large part in helping rangers monitor the area. Haynes encouraged visitors to take videos of any unusual activity and report it to park authorities.

“It’s really important for you to just let us know,” Haynes said.

CNN’s Stephen Watts contributed to this report.

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