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A hiker says he caught vandals in a national forest. Can Facebook find them?

A photo provided by Brett Nelson shows three people who, he claims, were carving their names into the railing at Tumalo Falls, Oregon. (Courtesy Brett Nelson)
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On Saturday, Brett Nelson decided to go for a hike. Nelson told the Portland Oregonian that he digs that kind of stuff. He called “exploring and finding things that have never been touched,” his favorite hobby, in fact.

So Nelson took a trip out to Tumalo Falls, in the Cascades. Except that he says he encountered a man and two teens near the 97-foot waterfall in Deschutes National Forest. They were scraping into a railing, leaving their names at the site, Nelson told the newspaper.

And — according to Nelson — they weren’t super sorry about it, either.

Here’s what happened when Nelson confronted the group about the alleged carvings, according to the Oregonian:

Nelson said both the man and the kids challenged him when he objected to their carving on the railing. Nelson asked the man for his license plate number, “so I can carve my name in the hood of your car.” He said the man responded “go for it, it’s a rental car.”
When he asked where they were from, the man responded “California.”
“I was like, ‘Go back,'” Nelson said. “Go carve your name in your own picnic table. Nobody wants you here.”

Nelson’s hiking buddy snapped a picture of the group; the teen girl even flashed a peace sign for it. Then, Nelson posted that shot to Facebook.

“PROUD parent letting children carve names in tumalo falls hand railing,” Nelson wrote in a caption of the photo, which had been shared more than 50,000 times by midday Tuesday.

[Etiquette advice: concerts | the arts | the movies | restaurant dining]

“I don’t want any kind of ramifications toward the kids,” he told the Oregonian. “That’s not the message I’m trying to get across. I just want wrongdoing to be admitted and for us all to move on.”

Now there is an investigation into the act, the Oregonian reports — a response that might not have been possible without the photographic evidence.

“Brett doing what he did really helps us out,” Deschutes National Forest spokeswoman Kassidy Kern told the newspaper. “For as spoiled as his experience felt in the moment, it certainly has catalyzed a movement of people who really value public lands.”

[Droughtshaming: California drought vigilantes humiliate wasteful neighbors]

Tourists and park visitors aren’t always on their best behavior, of course. Perhaps this is a thing you’ve noticed, here in Washington. (Obviously you have. Sorry, tourists.)

Two Americans apologized earlier this year after carving into the Colosseum in Rome, for example. And in 2014, a New York state woman drew the attention of officials after allegedly painting on national park land and posting pictures of the works to Instagram.

Glen Sachet, a regional spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Oregonian that vandalism is a recurring problem. “It costs the public money, it damages the long-term sustainability of our resources and our facilities, and it’s ugly.”

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