Two men sentenced for thermal trespass in Yellowstone

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — Two men have been sentenced to 10 days in jail for trespassing after they were caught walking on the cone of Old Faithful Geyser this fall.

Eric Schefflin, 20, of Lakewood, Colorado, and Ryan Goetz, 25, of Woodstock, New York, pleaded guilty to trespassing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center December 5.

Schefflin and Goetz were spotted walking on the cone of Old Faithful at around 8:30 p.m. September 10. Park employees and visitors reported the duo to dispatch, and a ranger later found and cited them.

Schefflin and Goetz pleaded guilty to the violation of thermal trespass. On September 10, 2019, at about 8:30 p.m., employees and visitors witnessed two individuals walking on the cone of Old Faithful Geyser and reported it to park dispatch. A ranger contacted and cited Schefflin and Goetz.

“Visitors must realize that walking on thermal features is dangerous, damages the resources, and illegal,” said Chief Ranger Sarah Davis. “Law enforcement officers take this violation seriously. Yellowstone National Park also appreciates the court for recognizing the impact thermal trespass can have on these amazing features.”

The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and scalding water sits just below the surface. Boardwalks are there for a reason, and visitors must stay on them at all times.

Schefflin and Goetz will each serve 10 days in jail, pay $540 in restitution, and serve five years of unsupervised probation. They have also been banned from Yellowstone National Park for five years.

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