Although a very popular and family friendly activity, the painted rock game is not allowed in National Parks sites including George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. National Parks practice a policy of Leave No Trace which means to try and leave everything the way you find it. While this is widely regarded as a backcountry policy there are principles for “front-country” which is relevant to urban parks and historical sites. “While George Rogers Clark National Historical Park does not have the delicate ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park, we treat these cultural heritage areas with the same respect” said Chief Ranger Joe Herron.
The other issue is safety. Some of the rocks have been placed at the bottoms of stone stairways which create a likely tripping hazard for many visitors including the elderly. Herron stated that while no trips have been reported because of the loose rocks, trips and falls are annually the biggest safety issue in the park. The park had three reported trips and falls in 2015 and five in 2016. A few of those even resulted in emergency room visits and stitches. Another possible issue is unrecovered rocks which end up in the grass and can be thrown by park mowers. While protecting the parks cultural landscape, the Park Service also has a mission to create as safe an environment as possible for visitors.
Chief Ranger Herron stated that park staff will not dispose of rocks that are found but they will take them to the visitor center. If they are not claimed right away, they will be turned over to event coordinators who will hide them in appropriate places. Herron also asked that if you wish to hide them at other local parks or public places, be sure to check with managers or other officials to see if rock hunting is allowed.