There is a tragic story in the hiking community this week with the discovery of the body of Geraldine Largay, 66, who became lost on the Appalachian trail in Maine. She left heartbreaking messages on her cellphone and a diary, including a request that “When you find my body, please call my husband and daughter.”
We have been discussing the scourge of graffiti and destruction by vandals in our national parks. The lack of deterrence was vividly shown by the laughable fine given to actress Vanessa Hudgens for defacing a rock wall. An exception to this dismal enforcement may be the case of three men who were caught on video drunkenly vandalizing Death Valley National Park and possibly causing the death of an endangered Devils Hole pupfish. Steven Schwinkendorf, Edgar Reyes and Trenton Sargent are all facing felony charges including killing of an endangered species, destruction of habitat, trespassing, and destruction of property. One is charged with the crime of an ex-felon possessing a firearm.
We have previously discussed the increasing appearance of graffiti in our national and state parks. As is well known on this blog, hiking is my passion and there is nothing more crushing than to see juvenile carvings and writings on trees and rocks in parks. Most recently, the Frame Arch was defaced by graffiti. I have written that the scourge of graffiti is due to the low detection rate and even lower penalties for those committing these crimes. The most recent case demonstrates vividly how the government still treats the crime as a minor matter. In a rare case of self-incrimination, Actress Vanessa Hudgens posted a picture of her carving of a heart into a red rock wall during a trip to Sedona, Arizona on federal park land. However, when nabbed by the federal government, they allowed her to walk with just $1000 donated to a charity.
Just when you thought that the greatest danger was exposed by Chevy Chase as land sharks at your front door. An alligator succeeded in ringing the front door of a Florida home. After all, why chase food when the food can come to you?
We have previously discussed the increasing appearance of graffiti in our national and state parks. As is well known on his blog, hiking is my passion and there is nothing more crushing than to see juvenile carvings and writings on trees and rocks in parks. One of the most disturbing are the carvings in the iconic and ancient rock formations at the Arches National Park in Utah. Some disgraceful individuals decided to deface the rock face that millions have enjoyed for decades. That damage is now viewed as likely irreparable.
Below is my column in USA Today on the prosecution of three state and local officials in the Flint, Michigan water scandal. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has promised more (and higher ranking) defendants in the coming weeks. However, as discussed in this column, these cases are not as straightforward as the pictures of bottles of Flint water juxtaposed against clean water. While there are strong elements to some of the charges, the prosecution is not nearly as easily or obvious as has been suggested in the media, in my view.
We have previously discussed how people seem incapable of resisting selfies even at the scenes of disasters or while driving (before accidents) or during environmental tragedies but some selfie are not just inappropriate but incriminating. That is the case with Wayne Huntsman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to starting the King Fire in 2014, which burned a dozen homes and nearly 100,000 acres in the central Sierra Nevada. The key evidence was the selfie taken above at the origin of the fire.