NewsAuthor: S. Shaw
Three men accused of going on a vandalism spree across several western United States National Parks have pleaded guilty and will be banned from all public lands for the next five years.
Today, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs the three Canadian men affiliated with the group “High On Life” admitted to breaking the law in Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Mesa Verde National Park.
“The judge’s decision today sends a strong and poignant message about thermal feature protection and safety,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk. “We implore all visitors to learn about the rules in Yellowstone, respect the rules and follow them. We ask visitors to take the Yellowstone Pledge. Protect your park and protect yourselves by staying on the boardwalks. If you witness resource violations, call 911 or contact a park ranger.”
This past summer the men, Charles Ryker Gamble, Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh, and Justis Cooper Price Brown went on a road trip through several different national parks and were accused of leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
The most egregious violation which sparked national outrage was when the High on Life crew were recorded on video walking across Grand Prismatic Springs in Yellowstone National Park, despite signs clearly showing that leaving the boardwalk is strictly forbidden.
Gamble and Lyakh pleaded guilty to charges in Yellowstone National Park that included disorderly conduct by creating a hazardous condition and foot travel in a thermal area. They also pleaded guilty to charges for commercial photography without a permit in Zion National Park; use of a drone in a closed area, riding a bike in wilderness, and commercial photography without a permit in Death Valley National Park; and the use of a drone in a closed area in Mesa Verde National Park.
Both will spend seven days in jail and pay more than $2,000.00 in fines. They were also sentenced to five years of probation, which includes being banned from public lands managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As a condition of probation,
Price Brown pleaded guilty to charges in Yellowstone National Park that included disorderly conduct by creating a hazardous condition and foot travel in a thermal area. He agreed to pay over $3,500.00 in fines. He was also placed on probation for five years which includes being banned from public lands.
The judge also is making them remove all photographs and videos on their social media accounts from areas where they faced charges.
The High On Life group was issued violation notices from:
Zion National Park
Death Valley National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Corona Arch (BLM)
Bonneville Salt Flats (BLM)
This is something that clearly has not been done as of the publication time of this article. While there personal pages are locked down tightly, the High On Life professional Facebook Page still has pictures posted of them riding bikes on the Salt Flats in Death Valley, driving across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, photos from Mesa Verde and videos from Zion, Yellowstone and other National Parks including parks where they were not charged with any crimes. It is unknown if they applied for or needed commercial filming permits in those parks.
In November of 2016, two other defendants from High On Life, Hamish Cross and Parker Heuser, pleaded guilty to violations in Yellowstone National Park and Death Valley National Park.