Hollywood starlet Vanessa Hudgens is learning the “leave it as you found it” motto the hard way after a recent Instagram post has gotten her into hot water with the National Forest Service.
While visiting the Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona, with her boyfriend actor Austin Butler over Valentine’s Day weekend, the 27-year-old actress took to her Instagram to share a romantic image of the couple’s names carved into red rocks surrounded by a heart. There was just one problem with the lovebird’s seemingly innocuous post: It may have been illegal.
Officials are investigating whether or not her carving was within the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest. It is against the law to damage “any natural feature or other property of the United States,” according to a statement issued by Brady Smith, a Coconino National Forest spokesman.
If her carving is found to be within the protected confines of the forest, Hudgens could be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.
While it’s nearly impossible for officials to stop people in the act of defacing national forests, by posting a (since-deleted) picture of her transgression to nearly 16 million online followers, Hudgens made it easy for authorities to open an investigation on her.
“On Monday, Feb. 15, we became aware — via media and public reports — of an Instagram posting by Vanessa Hudgens showing a scratching or carving of a heart with two names in it on a rock that allegedly is on the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest,” Smith said.
“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 (we) try to inform people about its destructive nature.We have found that when one person carves something, it encourages others to carve. Carving of any kind affects the natural beauty of the area.”
While National Forest Service officials will continue to investigate the alleged incident, many have been quick to judge Hudgens online, including Arizona senator John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain:
What moron would graffiti on Sedona's red rocks?! I hope Vanessa Hudgens is punished for carving on one of the most spectacular places in AZ
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) February 16, 2016
For her part, outside of deleting the Instagram post, Hudgens has remained silent on the situation.
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