JACKSON (WNE) — Two men have been banned from Yellowstone National Park for five years for trespassing on the cone of the park’s best-known attraction — Old Faithful geyser — …
JACKSON (WNE) — Two men have been banned from Yellowstone National Park for five years for trespassing on the cone of the park’s best-known attraction — Old Faithful geyser — back in September.
Eric Schefflin, 20, of Lakewood, Colorado, and Ryan Goetz, 25, of Woodstock, New York, pleaded guilty last month to the charge of trespassing on a thermal feature. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman sentenced them Dec. 5 at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs. Yellowstone officials publicized the sentences in a Thursday news release.
Besides being banished from Yellowstone, Schefflin and Goetz were sentenced to 10 days in jail, $540 in restitution each and five years of unsupervised probation.
“It’s good to send out a strong statement that not only can people get hurt or damage these natural resources ... but it’s also illegal,” said Linda Veress with the park’s Office of Strategic Communications. “That’s sometimes what resonates with some people.”
Park employees and visitors spotted the men walking on the cone Sept. 10 and reported it to park dispatch, after which a ranger contacted and cited them.
“Law enforcement officers take this violation seriously,” Chief Ranger Sarah Davis said in the news release. “Yellowstone National Park also appreciates the court for recognizing the impact thermal trespass can have on these amazing features.”
Hydrothermal areas like Old Faithful are generally fragile, and the ground can often be thin, with scalding water just below.
About three weeks after Schefflin and Goetz got too close to Old Faithful, a 48-year-old man learned of the danger first-hand. Cade Siemers, a U.S. citizen who’d been living in India, fell into scalding thermal water near the geyser late on the night of Sept. 30. He suffered severe burns that required him to be flown to a burn center in Idaho.
Yellowstone officials said at the time that the case would be referred to federal prosecutors, but public court records accessed Friday indicate that Siemers has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
Park officials tell visitors they must stay on boardwalks and exercise caution around geysers, hot springs and other thermal sites.