National parks: special program for ruins in ruins

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BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT, N.M. (AP) — Inside the dark, cliffside cave last occupied by the people of Frijoles Canyon some 500 years ago is evidence of more recent human activity: graffiti proclaiming"2008" and"I love you" carved into a wall.

"Oh, man," art conservator Larry Humetewa muttered as he bent to inspect the damage in the" cavate," a large, cave-live room.

Vandalism is just one of many threats to the fragile archaeological sites that are the heart of national parks and monuments in the arid West.

They're hammered by sun and rain, freezes and thaws, wind and the abrasive sand it carries. They're invaded by pests and human visitors who can't resist touching.

In short, the ruins are in ruins.

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