Three Canadians will be banned from federal lands for five years after pleading guilty to walking on a sensitive hot spring in Yellowstone National Park and other crimes at parks across the Western U.S., park officials said Thursday.
Charles Gamble, Alexey Lyakh and Justis Price Brown pleaded guilty during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center, officials said.
The men were from the group High on Life SundayFundayz. An investigation last spring into the group’s travels revealed violations of park rules at Yellowstone, Zion, Death Valley and Mesa Verde national parks and Utah’s Corona Arch and Bonneville Salt Flats.
The defendants also used drones in closed areas, rode bikes in a wilderness area and took commercial photographs without a permit, according to authorities.
In addition to being banned from public lands, Gamble and Lyakh were ordered to serve a week in jail and pay more than $2,000 in fines, restitution and community service payments. Brown agreed to fines and payments of more than $3,500, officials said.
Two other men – Hamish Cross and Parker Heuser – pleaded guilty in the case in November.
The defendants posted video and selfies of their travels on social media. Several are from Vancouver, British Columbia, and have a clothing line that they promote.
Gamble’s attorney, Alex Rate, said his client and friends had been threatened and shamed on social media for what amounted to making bad decisions on a road trip. Their aim was to inspire people to explore the parks, and any money they made from the videos they posted was minuscule, Rate said.
“These young men have been through the wringer when it comes to public shaming,” Rate said. “They understand the impact of their decisions and take responsibility for it.”
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement that the penalties handed down Thursday “send a strong and poignant message about thermal feature protection and safety.”
An Oregon man died last June when he left a designated boardwalk and fell into a scalding hot spring at Yellowstone.
Volz reported from Helena, Montana.