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Contact: Darlene M. Koontz, (530) 595-4444, ext. 5101
On Saturday, March 28, 2009 Andrew Ellis Pratt from Fall River Mills, CA, Andrew Ellis Pratt Jr., and Timothy Edward Pratt (both Eureka, CA residents) were cited into federal court for riding snowmobiles inside Lassen Volcanic National Park, a violation of Federal Regulations. These individuals were charged with trespassing by riding snowmobiles into the park’s backcountry and federally designated wilderness areas. The three snowmobilers were discovered near Mount Diller and Brokeoff Mountain when a park backcountry ski patroller observed them operating their snowmobiles inside the park. A CHP helicopter and park rangers on snowmobiles responded to apprehend the snowmobilers.
Park staff observed these snowmobile riders “high marking” on wilderness mountain peaks. High marking is a contest amongst snowmobile riders to see who can get to the highest point before sliding back down a mountain slope.
Most of the park’s 106,372 acres is managed as natural areas. This includes about 75% of the park that has been designated as wilderness by Congress in 1972. Although the park remains open all year, access in winter beyond the developed areas of Manzanita Lake in the north, and the Kohm-Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center in the south is by skis and snowshoes. Mechanical travel, such as snowmobiles, is prohibited in the park beyond these areas. In summer months, the park’s 150 miles of trail allows foot and horse access to beautifully preserved natural streams, lakes and mountain peaks.
“Illegal snowmobile use in the park creates a significant intrusion to the beauty, peace and solitude for which the park was established to protect” stated Park Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz. Winter closures of the park’s interior roads provide park visitors a unique backcountry opportunity to experience beauty, peace, and quiet. To maintain this experience, motorized vehicles are prohibited in the park’s backcountry areas. Violating these federal regulations causes serious aesthetic damage to an otherwise pristine and roadless area.
“Illegal snowmobile use in the Park will not be tolerated. Park law enforcement staff will investigate and prosecute all instances of this illegal activity,” stated Superintendent Koontz.
U.S. Code of Federal Regulation punishments for this activity include a maximum fine of $5,000.00 and/or 6 months incarceration. Violators may be held financially accountable for any damage to wilderness resources.
Park Rangers need the public’s help to report and identify illegal trespass activities into wilderness lands. If you have any information concerning these types of illegal activities, please contact the park’s Chief Ranger’s Office at (530) 595-4444 X5150.