Two women sentenced for walking off trail in Yellowstone thermal area, causing damage - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Two women sentenced for walking off trail in Yellowstone thermal area, causing damage

Opal Pool in Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin. (NPS Photo/ Diane Renkin)

CASPER, Wyo. — Two Philadelphia, Pennsylvania women have been sentenced for walking off of the boardwalk in a thermal area in Yellowstone National Park, causing damage to Opal Pool in the Midway Geyser Basin, according to a Thursday, June 18 release from the United States Department of Justice.

“Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman sentenced Tara L. Davoli, age 31, and Sarah A. Piotrowski, age 30, both of Philadelphia for being off trail in a thermal area,” the release states.

The women were observed walking off the boardwalk on June 11, 2020 “which resulted in damage to orange bacterial mats at Opal Pool in the Midway Geyser Basin.”

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“Multiple witnesses observed the two walking on the feature and confronted them in an effort to get them to stop,” the release continues.

Both received two day imprisonment sentences along with $350 fines. They were also ordered to pay $106.92 each on restitution for damages to the Opal Pool. The restitution amount was determined by damage assement conducted by Yellowstone’s geologist and thermal research crew, the release adds.

They’ve also been banned from Yellowstone for two years and will serve two years “unsupervised release.”

“The rules in our National Parks are there for a reason – to protect visitors and the natural beauty we all want to experience and enjoy,” said United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming Mark A. Klaassen. “Just taking a few steps off the boardwalk in a thermal area may seem harmless, but it can really damage the ecosystem and potentially put visitors in danger.”

“We support the National Park Service and Park Rangers who work to enforce these rules so we can all continue to enjoy amazing places like Yellowstone and preserve the park for future generations.” 

Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly expressed gratitude for the Wyoming U.S. Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the case. The National Park Service investigated the case.

“The successful investigation and prosecution of these types of cases help prevent future degradation of resources committed by irresponsible visitors,” Sholly said.