A man who claims to be a Yellowstone tour guide receives a trial and punishment for being reckless with the treasure of Yellowstone National Park.
Theodore Eugene Garland of Edmond, Oklahoma appeared for sentencing before Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park on July 2. He was convicted on seven counts of unlawful activity in Yellowstone, largely from incidents documented on his own social media accounts.
Theodore Garland maintains a Facebook page, a podcast, and an “Explore Yellowstone Like a Local” guide to Yellowstone. All three have overlapping images and messages about his guided tours in the park, which violated closures and other park regulations and encouraged visitors to do the same.
Examples of Garland violations in Yellowstone include providing unauthorized tours, trespassing on spa grounds, violating swimming closures and cliff jumping, creating “hot pots in the rivers” and wildlife disturbance.
At a time when Yellowstone is seeing record numbers of visitors, this sets a dangerous precedent. Garland’s website promotes taking her guests “off the beaten path and away from all the crowds in secret places,” which meant ignoring park rules and protocols for her visits.
Garland was initially charged with 15 counts of illegal activity and violation of national park regulations. After a trial held on April 7 and 8 of this year, Judge Carman found Garland guilty on seven counts.
The government has requested several sanctions for Garland’s actions:
- 30 days imprisonment, served concurrently, on all counts
- A fine of $750 for each count
- A community service payment of $750 for each account
- Five years of unsupervised probation
- A ban from Yellowstone National Park for five years.
Ultimately, Judge Carman decided to sentence Garland to seven days in jail, a total of $600 in fines and costs, and a one-time payment of $500 to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund. Additionally, he is banned from Yellowstone National Park until December 31, 2021.
Additionally, Judge Carman sentenced Garland to an unusual but significant sentence – literary revision.
On July 16, Garland was to “write an introduction/pass on to his guide communicating respect for the park and removing references to illegal activity.” Garland is currently promoting the 11th edition of its guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, which presumably contains the new revisions.
“Enforcing federal criminal laws to protect our national parks resources will always remain a priority for the United States Attorney’s Office in Wyoming,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “This is especially true when a greed-driven criminal like Mr. Garland encourages others to commit more crimes and cause more damage to the treasures of America’s premier national park.”
Garland may have avoided a harsher sentence, but he will have to stay out of trouble. He is now beginning five years of unsupervised probation and must “in no way encourage violations of the laws in national parks”.