We’ve all been there, right? In love, wanting to memorialize that special moment in some way. Some opt for a photo, some for a (most likely ill-advised) tattoo, some want to just leave their mark at a special place. High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens should have opted for a tat or photo, as her impulsively romantic gesture has landed her in hot water.
Vanessa recently spent a romantic holiday with beau Austin Butler in the Sedona, Arizona desert. And, as many young lovers are apt to do, wanted to create a lasting reminder of this romantic rendezvous to revisit for years to come. Unfortunately, the couple decided to celebrate their love by carving their names into one of the area’s federally protected red rock formations. The couple might have gotten away with their antics if Vanessa hadn’t chosen to post the photo of their handiwork on her Instagram page. The photo of the carving, a crudely drawn heart with the inscription “Austin + Vanessa” has since been deleted from Vanessa’s page, but she did leave up a photo of her and Austin canoodling in the desert with the caption #sedonadreams.
— Brent Corrado (@BrentCorrado) February 17, 2016
The photo of the carving attracted the attention of authorities at the Coconino National Forest, where the rock currently resides. Vanessa and Austin’s actions violated a federal law prohibiting anyone from “damaging natural surfaces or property of the United States.” A spokesman for Coconino, Brady Smith, told Us Weekly that “This incident is currently under investigation, so there is not much I can share specifically since I am not privy to the details of an investigation until it is complete. However, I can say that the issue of people carving their names and other things in rocks in the Sedona and surrounding area is always a challenge we face, and try to inform people about its destructive nature. We have found that when one person carves something, it encourages others to carve.”
The couple could face a fine of up to $5,000 or six months behind bars for their actions. I don’t think Vanessa is going to have to channel her inner Rizzo from Grease Live and stick it out in women’s prison, but I do think she’ll be writing a check to the Coconino National Forest. Deservedly so. There’s no reason to deface our country’s beautiful natural resources for a relationship that hasn’t (yet) involved a ring or a name change. Why not stick to pics and/or ink?
photo credit: WENN and Getty