Man Gets Jail for Walking in Off-Limits Yellowstone Park Thermal Area
National Park Service / Jacob W. Frank
A New York resident pleaded guilty for walking in an off-limits thermal area in Yellowstone National Park two weeks ago, and was sentenced to a short jail term during a hearing in federal court in Mammoth on Wednesday.
Cory L. Skinner is a resident of New York, Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lori Hogan said last week, but she did not have details beyond those mentioned in the indictment.
Both violations occurred on April 12.
Skinner is charged with:
- "... knowingly and unlawfully enter a thermal area, to wit: Old Faithful District on the Path to the Upper Geyser Basin."
- "... knowingly and unlawfully possess, destroy, injure, remove, dig, or disturb from its natural state a mineral resource or cave formation or the parts thereof."
Both offenses each are punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
On Monday, Skinner pleaded guilty to the first count, which says the Park requires "foot travel in all thermal areas and within the Yellowstone Canyon between the Upper Falls and Inspiration Point must be confined to boardwalks or trails that are maintained for such travel and are marked by official signs."
As part of the plea agreement, the government dismissed the second count.
On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Hambrick handed down the seven-day jail sentence with credit for three days served, and will serve two years of unsupervised probation after his release from custody.
Hambrick ordered Skinner to pay a $10 special assessment, a $500 fine, and $1,250 in community service to the Park's nonprofit partner Yellowstone Forever Geologic Resource Fund in Bozeman, Montana.
She also ordered Skinner to be banned from Yellowstone National Park for two years.
The minutes of the hearing indicated Skinner waived having an attorney.
This case is reminiscent of an incident in May 2016 when of a group of men with a Vancouver, B.C.-based company called "High on Life" walked on the Grand Prismatic Spring. Like Skinner, they were charged with violating the rule requiring to stay on designated board walks or trails.
Three of them paid thousands of dollars in fines and were banned from federal lands for five years after they pleaded guilty to crimes related to walking on the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park in May 2016.
Two of them spent time in jail.
Later that year, a 23-year-old Portland, Oregon, man was looking to "hot pot," or soak in a thermal spring, fell in, and died.
Authorities found only a few personal effects, but no bodily remains in the very hot, highly acidic spring.