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One Bonneville vandal gets fines, banned; others plead not guilty

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Photo via High On Life SundayFundayz on Facebook.

One of four Canadian men charged in connection with a publicity stunt involving an RV driving on the flooded Bonneville Salt Flats earlier this year received fines and a ban from the location last month while his colleagues all pled not guilty and face later court dates.

Parker Heuser, a member of the Vancouver-based social media travel group High on Life SundayFundayz that faced criticism for disrespecting monuments and natural parks across the United States during a road trip earlier this year, pled guilty to a brace of National Parks Service citations issued against him in May for a March incident in which he and at least three other group members towed wakeboarders behind their six-wheeled RV across the salt flats and in the process damaged the surface of the salt flats.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the plea to the charges of creating a hazard to public lands or its users, operating a passenger vehicle off of designated areas or trails, and failure to obtain a special recreation permit netted Heuser a fine of about $600 plus a five-year ban from all public lands managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Heuser also pled guilty to charges of riding a bicycle in the wilderness and filming without a permit in Death Valley National Park.

At last month’s hearing at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth, Yellowstone National Park, three other members of the group – Charles Ryker Gamble, Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh, and Justis Cooper Price-Brown – pled not guilty to charges stemming from that incident and from a later off-trail incident at Yellowstone National Park. According to the Salt Lake Tribune article, the three pled not guilty so they could contest the penalties. A fifth member of the group not charged in the Bonneville incident, Hamish McNab Campbell Cross, pled guilty to charges stemming from the Yellowstone incident and received $8,000 in fines and a five-year ban of his own.

Because none of the charges amounted to a felony, park officials could not request extradition for the members of the group, who had wrapped up their road trip and returned to Canada before the charges were filed. Members of the group later took down images of the Bonneville and Yellowstone incidents and announced that they would “take full responsibility” for their actions.

BLM rules prohibit driving on the Bonneville Salt Flats while standing water is present. Though rock-hard when dry during the summer and fall, the flats become soft and highly susceptible to damage during the annual flooding in the winter and spring. BLM researchers have cited such damage as one of the reasons for the decline in thickness and in area of the salt flats that has in turn put continued land-speed racing at Bonneville in jeopardy.

No trial date has yet been set for the three group members who pled not guilty.