BREAKING: Three High On Life Defendants Plead Guilty; Two Will Be Jailed
Three defendants from the Canadian group High On Life will pay thousands of dollars in fines and will be banned from federal lands for five years after they pleaded guilty to crimes related to their walking on the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park in May, according to a news release from the park late today.
Two of them, Charles Ryker Gamble and Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh, also will spend seven days in jail.
“The judge’s decision today sends a strong and poignant message about thermal feature protection and safety,” Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said in the news release.
“We implore all visitors to learn about the rules in Yellowstone, respect the rules and follow them," Wenk said. "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.”
Gamble, Lyakh and Justis Cooper Price Brown entered their pleas during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs. Gamble and Lyakh appeared in person. Price Brown entered his plea by phone.
Gamble and Lyakh pleaded guilty to charges in Yellowstone including disorderly conduct by creating a hazardous condition and foot travel in a thermal area. They also pleaded guilty to 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.
They will serve seven days in jail; and pay more than $2,000 in fees, fines, restitution, and community service payments to Yellowstone Forever. Carman also placed them on probation for five years during which they will be banned from public lands managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and the Army Corps of Engineers. They also must remove from their social media accounts all photographs and videos taken where they were charged violations.
Price Brown pleaded guilty to charges in Yellowstone that included disorderly conduct by creating a hazardous condition and foot travel in a thermal area. He will pay more than $3,500 in fees, fines, restitution, and community service payments to Yellowstone Forever. His five-year probation includes the ban from public lands.
The case drew international attention after May 16 when a Yellowstone visitor contacted park ranger after seeing four individuals walking on the delicate bacterial mat of the Grand Prismatic Spring.
During the investigation, rangers identified the individuals and arrest warrants were issued. Through the use of social media and tips from the public, additional investigations were conducted about the group’s activities on other federal lands.
On Nov. 1, other High On Life defendants Hamish Cross and Parker Heuser pleaded guilty to violations in Yellowstone and Death Valley national parks.
Besides the national parks, the BLM issued violation notices from Corona Arch and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.