Visitors to the Woodard Bay conservation area in northeast Thurston County near Henderson Inlet over the holiday weekend received a rude welcome, confronted by two signs that had been tagged with a hate symbol and hate speech.
The state Department of Natural Resources, which manages the nature preserve, has since cleaned up the offensive graffiti, spokesman Kenny Ocker said Tuesday.
"There's no place for this on public lands and it's incredibly disheartening that someone would do this in an area that everybody is supposed to share," he said.
An informational sign that welcomes visitors to the area was tagged with a Nazi swastika and the racial slur, and a second sign in the area was tagged in a similar vein, Ocker said.
DNR staff painted over the offensive symbols and words on Sunday, then staff cleaned it up on Monday, he said.
The Olympian first learned of the tagging Sunday from Olympia resident Michelle Gonzalez, who said her son visited the conservation area on Saturday with a friend and discovered the sign.
She called the image "disturbing" and "very offensive" and hoped that it would soon be removed. She also was disappointed that her son's friend, visiting from out of state, should visit a beautiful and scenic area and be confronted with that image.
Gonzalez took a picture of the sign and shared it with The Olympian.
Although DNR's managed lands are occasionally vandalized, this is the most prominent piece of graffiti that Ocker could recall in his nearly five years with the agency.
DNR, which has its own police force, is investigating the incident, but no one is in custody, Ocker said.
Anyone with information about the tagging is asked to call DNR at 360-902-1625.