Fines and Jail Time for Being Off Trail in Yellowstone National Park
Yesterday we reported the lower numbers of spring visitors to Yellowstone National Park and wondered if shenanigans would be down, too.
But maybe an incident that occurred last week and the accompanying punishment indicate that it will be another busy summer of bad judgement in the park.
Two Pennsylvania women have each been sentenced to two days in jail and received fines totaling over $450, including damages, for being off-trail in a thermal area. On June 11, Tara Davoli and Sarah Piotrowski were both observed being off the boardwalk walking in a thermal area, which resulted in damage to orange bacterial mats at Opal Pool in the Midway Geyser Basin. Multiple witnesses observed the two walking on the feature and confronted them in an effort to get them to stop.
The two women have been banned from Yellowstone National Park for two years and will serve two years' unsupervised release. The amount of restitution was based on a damage assessment conducted by the Yellowstone geologist and a thermal research crew.
A U.S. attorney commented, “The rules in our National Parks are there for a reason – to protect visitors and the natural beauty we all want to experience and enjoy. Just taking a few steps off the boardwalk in a thermal area may seem harmless, but it can really damage the ecosystem and potentially put visitors in danger. “We support the National Park Service and Park Rangers who work to enforce these rules so we can all continue to enjoy amazing places like Yellowstone and preserve the park for future generations.”