The U.S. Forest Service is trying to find out who vandalized a popular cave in Central Oregon. Authorities say extensive damage was done to the cave's natural and cultural features.
The vandalism occurred sometime in late April at the Hidden Forest Cave in the Deschutes National Forest. Vandals chopped down trees and set a fire inside the cave. They also spray-painted extensively both outside and inside the cave, covering native pictographs.
Penni Borghi is a forest archeologist with the Deschutes National Forest.
Borghi says the paintings were likely made by members of the Klamath Tribe or the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, although exactly when remains a mystery.
"I would imagine that because they're exposed to the elements that they're probably not 10,000 years old, but they were probably created before any Euro-Americans were living in the area."
The national forest has called in an expert to examine the pictographs and see whether they can be restored.
The vandals could face misdemeanor or felony charges under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. A local caving group has started a reward fund for information leading to an arrest.
Deschutes National Forest
Oregon High Desert Grotto