SANTA BARBARA CO., Calif. - The NewsChannel team has learned that damage from graffiti markings recently found along a trail to Arlington Peak was a criminal act and more extensive than first thought.
"Normally if we find some it's just a small tagging on a rock, something like that, but this is really, really extensive," said Pancho Smith, District Ranger for the Santa Barbara Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest. "This is over 100 arrows."
The orange arrow markings were found coming down off Arlington Peak, across Jesusita Trial and up Tunnel Trail in Santa Barbara's front-country.
Smith said it appeared someone was trying to give directions, possibly to a group. He added that it's puzzling because the markings come off from the top of Arlington Peak when normally this type of thing would direct hikers up to a destination point.
Smith said the Los Padres staff reached out to local hiking groups and does not believe any local members were involved.
"We're really not sure why it was done," said Smith.
He pointed out that there are other biodegradable ways to mark a trail.
"There's a group out there called the Hash House Harriers and what they do is they mark with flour on the ground."
Smith said flagging, maps and GPS are other options.
Meantime, a small crew of volunteers with the Los Padres Forest Association is working to remove the damage.
"They are cleaning up and seeing how the material works on this particular instance of graffiti," said Smith. "If it works well there will be a much larger organized group."
Smith said the person found responsible faces a steep fine of at least $5,000 and would be prosecuted through the federal government.
If you have any information about the trail graffiti damage, contact the Los Padres National Forest Supervisor's line at 805-968-6640.