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Climbers launch effort to catch petroglyph thieves

December 5, 2012

Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management

The local and even international climbing communities have joined the effort to bring attention to the recent thefts and vandalism of ancient, irreplaceable rock art, and hopefully bring those responsible to justice.
Bay Area resident and climbing enthusiast MaryKate Meyerhoffer created a Facebook page dedicated in part to raising money to supplement the reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for stealing and permanently damaging several Bishop-area petroglyphs.
To date, the page has attracted close to 1,000 members from all over the Eastern Sierra, U.S. and Canada who have pitched in more than $1,000. The money goes to the nonprofit Access Fund for distribution to the reward fund or related site stewardship efforts. All donations are tax-deductible.
The Nov. 20 creation of the “Raise the Bounty: Climbers Against the Bishop Petroglyph Theft” Facebook page followed on the heels of the Bishop Paiute Tribe and Bureau of Land Management Bishop Office each contributing $1,000 to a reward fund, and came at about the same time the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association launched a fundraising campaign that also included educational efforts.
ESIA announced recently it is accepting donations for four different funds: the petroglyph vandalism reward fund; interpretive opportunities (to show how the damage has affected the overall panel); adopt-a-camera for continued site monitoring/surveillance; and archeological site stewardship training and volunteer opportunities.
According to Meyerhoffer, the Access Fund donation system will follow the structure set up by ESIA.
Those who would like to donate through her website, http://igg.me/p/280629?a=1783518, can choose to have their money go directly to the Bishop Paiute Tribe or to ongoing management and monitoring of Eastern Sierra Petroglyph sites.
When Meyerhoffer launched the Facebook page last month, she said she was hoping to raise $1,000 to add to the reward for information about the thieves. Shortly after starting the group, Meyerhoffer contacted the BLM and personally guaranteed the donation of $1,000 for the reward.
The Facebook group’s thread shows that she had some concerns about being able to raise that much money, but, as of Monday, the group, with about 935 members, had raised more than the promised $1,000.
“This is fantastic, thank you everyone who has donated so far,” Meyerhoffer wrote on the Raise the Reward Facebook page. “We have raised $1,251.00. Don’t forget to spread the word.”
Meyerhoffer will be collection donations for the reward fund through Jan. 5.
“I think this shows that this cause is dear to people for many reasons. We also consider this sacred space, even though that word may have different interpretations to people for different reasons,” Meyerhoffer wrote.
As of Wednesday, donations had come in from as far as Missouri and Canada.
“This makes me sick to my stomach,” Kansas City, Mo. resident Jeremy Collins wrote on the Raise the Reward Facebook page. “These are irreplaceable moments in time stolen from the future.”
Joanna Kolskog King of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada said she made a donation to “rep some of us Canadian climbers that enjoy Bishop so much.”
Anyone who is interested in donating or just joining the group to stay up to date on how fundraising efforts are going can find them at www.facebook.com/groups/492810737418951/?ref=ts&fref=ts

 

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