Man Jailed For Unauthorized Guided Tours and Encouraging Illegal Activity in Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone east entrance. Credit: NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray announced yesterday that Theodore Eugene Garland, age 60, of Edmond, Oklahoma, was sentenced on seven counts of illegal activities and violations in Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Garland appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, on July 2, 2021, for the sentencing.

Theodore Garland has a social media page, a podcast, and a guidebook. All three have overlapping pictures and posts about his guided tours in YNP, which violated closures and other park regulations and encouraged visitors to do the same. Some examples included providing unauthorized guided tours, trespassing on thermal grounds, violating swimming closures and cliff jumping, creating “hot pots in rivers;” and disturbing wildlife.

Garland was charged with 15 counts of illegal activities and violating national park regulations. After hearing the evidence at a bench trial held on April 7 and 8, 2021, Judge Carman found Garland guilty on seven counts.

At sentencing, the government requested that Garland be imprisoned for 30 days, served concurrently, on all counts; pay a fine of $750 for each count; make a Community Service Payment of $750 for each count; five years of unsupervised probation; and that he receives a ban from Yellowstone National Park for five years.

Judge Mark Carman sentenced Garland on the seven counts, resulting in a seven-day jail sentence; a total of $600 in fines and fees; a one-time payment of $500 to Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund; and a ban from Yellowstone National Park until December 31, 2021. He was also ordered to write an introduction/forward to his guidebook communicating respect for the park and removing references of illegal activity by July 16, 2021. Garland will serve five years of unsupervised probation and shall “not promote violations of laws in the national parks in any way.”

“Enforcing federal criminal laws for the protection of our national parks’ resources will always remain a priority of the United States Attorney’s office in Wyoming. That is especially true when a criminal motivated by greed, like Mr. Garland, encourages others to commit more crimes and cause more damage to the treasures of
America’s first national park.”

– Acting United States Attorney, Bob Murray

This case was handled by the National Park Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick.

Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in the western United States, largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending into Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular. While it represents many types of biomes, the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

Yellowstone National Park

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