Framework

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Kevin Forrester, a superintendent with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, walks inside Mitchell Caverns at Providence Mountains State Recreation Area in the Mojave Desert. The visitors center at the caverns was recently vandalized, and officials worry that the 70 other state parks scehduled for closure because of budget cuts will suffer a similar fate.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Forrester looks for signs of vandalism inside Mitchell Caverns. At the park's visitors center, intruders cut fences, kicked doors off of hinges and shattered windows and display cases.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Forrester is dwarfed by the huge mountainside containing Mitchell Caverns, which is part of the 5,900-acre Providence Mountains State Recreation Area in the Mojave Desert. Los Angeles businessman Jack Mitchell and his wife, Ida, opened the caverns as a tourist attraction in the 1930s and sold them to the state in 1954.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Forrester looks at a shattered window at the rock-and-mortar visitors center at Mitchell Caverns.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

"Look at it now,” Forrester said about the site. “We’ve had to board up the windows and weld the doors shut. It’s going to take a lot of money to bring this place back to life.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Vandals opened several conduits to steal thousands of feet of copper wire that was illuminating the only natural limestone caverns in the state park system.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Forrester outside the Mitchell Caverns visitors center. Park officials estimate the damage caused by vandals at $100,000.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A view of the desert from Providence Mountains State Recreation Area, which includes Mitchell Caverns. A memorial plaque says Jack and Ida Mitchell wanted the state to preserve the area and the caverns “for future generations to appreciate.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Forrester at the park's gate.The vandalism at Mitchell Caverns has heightened concerns about possible attacks at other state parks scheduled for closure. Officials are seeking anyone with the clout and the funds to keep the most vulnerable parks from being left unguarded after they are shuttered.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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Vandalism at a shuttered state park

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Vandalism at a shuttered state park

At the visitors center at Mitchell Caverns, part of Providence Mountains State Recreation Area in the Mojave Desert, vandals cut fences, kicked doors off of hinges and shattered windows and display cases. They also stole copper wire, metal signs and survival gear, including hand-held radios, flashlights and binoculars. Critics say what happened at the shuttered park is a signal of what’s to come when 70 more state parks are closed because of budget cuts.

Read Louis Sahagun’s article: “Shuttered California state parks may be vulnerable to vandalism

2 Comments

  1. February 26, 2012, 7:48 am

    Good job that should make us think about these words " Critics say what happened at the shuttered park is a signal of what’s to come when 70 more state parks are closed because of budget cuts."

    By: Marcos Veiga
  2. February 28, 2012, 1:02 pm

    hi, my name is john houck, and I read an artical in the news paper about what happened to mitchell caverns, and the vandalisem. I am 60 years old, and verry healthy and able, and willing to help. I think you might want to contact me about maybe helping the state, and the caverns out. I dont know were this e-mail will end up, but I hope it might be read by somebody of importance. I am a builder in many crafts,(new construction, and maintance). I am currently unemployed, and have been for quit some time now. I am realy quite a cheep date,and just looking for some kind of work to give me something to do, and maybe be helpful at the same time. I have unlimited skills.I am not looking to become rich, just helpful. If any one of any importantance reads this e-mail please contact me @ sailorjohnr@yahoo.com or john houck @ (714) 661-8058 pasadena, ca. Thank you for your time, and have a great day.

    By: john houck

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