Actress Vanessa Hudgens fined for carving on red rock wall in Arizona
Published 14/05/2016 | 13:38
Actress Vanessa Hudgens has been fined 1,000 US dollars for carving a heart into a red rock wall during a trip to Sedona, Arizona.
Hudgens posted a photo of the carving bearing the names "Vanessa" and "Austin" on her Instagram page around Valentine's Day, along with other photos of the couple amid the towering red rocks that draw tourists to northern Arizona.
The payment resolves a citation issued to Hudgens on a misdemeanor count of damaging a natural feature on US Forest Service land. The money was used by a volunteer group called Friends of the Forest to restore the rock wall, which typically is done by scrubbing or sanding the rock.
A federal magistrate in Flagstaff approved the agreement on April 19, but it was not made public.
Hudgens is best known for her role as Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical movie franchise.
Hudgens admitted to using a rock to scratch the names inside the heart and gave authorities information on where to find it. Volunteers and Forest Service employees found the heart matching the description around February 23 on a geologic formation known as Bell Rock.
Forest officials rarely find out who is responsible for vandalizing rock walls, but Hudgens' celebrity status played a huge role, Coconino National Forest Service spokesman Brady Smith said.
Hudgens' followers on Instagram alerted the media, and authorities took note of the news coverage. The photo of the carving was quickly removed from her page.
"She was caught in the act because she publicised it and she's famous," Mr Smith said. "I'm sure there are others who are not famous and publicised it and we've never known."
Mr Smith said carvings destroy the natural beauty of the area and create the perception among the public that it is acceptable to deface rock walls. Damaging a natural feature is punishable by up to six months in jail and a 5,000 dollar fine.
Jennifer Young, president of Friends of the Forest said about 10 to 15 volunteers responding to reports of vandalism set out in the Red Rock Ranger District every other week in search of reported graffiti and use wire brushes, sandpaper and a specialised drill to clean it up.
"Unfortunately, there's a lot that happens," she said.