KODIAK, Alaska — Kodiak park officials plan to discuss whether to ban a nationwide craze of painting rocks and leaving them to be found by others.
The Kodiak State Parks Citizens Advisory Board on Feb. 5 will discuss the rocks that began popping up around Kodiak last year, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported .
The discussion is in response to a formal complaint that claimed the painted rocks left in Ft. Abercrombie should be considered litter and be prohibited.
Ben Shryock, Kodiak’s acting Chief Park Ranger, said painted rocks are not included by name in the State Parks definition of litter, but he said exactly what constitutes as litter is open to interpretation. Shryock said the community is largely supportive of the practice.
“I’d heard people grumble about it before, but this was the first time someone came into the office and complained about it,” he said. “Personally, I did not interpret this as litter of graffiti or anything like that.”
Painting and hiding rocks is a relatively recent craze across the country. Erica Thompson, a teacher at Peterson Elementary, said she was responsible for bringing the idea to Kodiak.
Thompson and her family began painting rocks in early 2017. She said she was inspired by her mother’s involvement with a group called Skagit County Rocks in Washington state, so she created a Facebook page called “Kodiak Island Rocks.”
“And then it took off like wildfire,” Thompson said. “I probably added 100 people, local friends, here in Kodiak. I think by spring break, there were already 1,000 people.”
The page currently has more than 4,000 members.
“I cannot keep up with it,” Thompson said.
Local businesses and organizations have also become involved with the rocks by giving away painting starter kits. The Kodiak Arts Council is among the groups involved.
Thompson said that the class she teaches at Peterson painted kindness-themed rocks, which they hid during a field trip to Near Island and subsequently tracked their progress on the Facebook page.
“One of the rocks ended up in Georgia,” she said. “For the kids that’s really awesome, especially because they’re studying geography.”
Thompson said she has seen the rocks banned in national parks and would comply if they also become banned in Alaska.
She advised people against putting accessories on the rocks — like sticky eyes — because that could have a detrimental impact on the environment.
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com