Potter Marsh may be one of the most accessible wildlife viewing spots in Alaska. Unfortunately, vandals left their mark on the popular destination over the weekend.

“It kind of gives a bad impression right away when you drive in and see that,” Potter Marsh visitor John Kennish said Tuesday.

Refuge managers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) spent the day scrubbing bathrooms at Potter Marsh, after they were graffitied sometime between Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Fish and Wildlife technician Tom Griffin says normally he’d be teaching school groups about bear safety; instead, he was elbow-deep in rubber gloves and graffiti remover.

“We might have to do three or four applications, but eventually it will come off,” he said.

The department estimates the damage to be about $500.

Potter Marsh stretches nearly two miles between the New Seward Highway and the base of the Chugach Mountains; it's a beautiful view, now temporarily stained.

“We are always told, 'Don’t take these types of incidents personally,' but I argue just the opposite,” refuge manager Joe Meehan said. “Everybody should take this personally. We should all step up and keep our eyes open for incidents of vandalism and other crimes to our public lands and facilities.”

ADFG reported the vandalism to the Anchorage Police Department.

“The graffiti appears to be gang-tagging but we cannot definitively attribute it to one particular gang or group at this time,” APD spokesperson Renee Oistad wrote in an email.

Whoever is responsible didn’t just tag the bathroom; they also damaged concrete planters and a stop sign.

“It’s a mark against public property. Potter Marsh is such a community asset,” Meehan said.

Now, Fish and Game staff wonder what more needs to be done to keep facilities safe from vandals. Meehan says he’s considering hiring someone to lock the gate to Potter Marsh at night, which is something that had stopped due to department budget cuts.

He also hopes having a park host in the parking lot during the popular summer tourist months will deter crime and preserve the scenic locale for visitors to enjoy in the future.

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