Visitors who get too close to Hyperion, the world's tallest living tree, could now face a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
The tree, which grows deep in California's Redwood National and State Park, was discovered in 2006 and has since faced serious risk as visitors force their way into its grove, leaving destruction and litter in their wake. Hyperion is inaccessible by the park's official trails, and can only be reached by crossing a river and bushwhacking through vegetation.
"There was trash, and people were creating even more side trails to use the bathroom," said the park's chief of natural resources Leonel Arguello. "They leave used toilet paper and human waste – it’s not a good thing,"
Walkers have caused erosion around the tree, and people have damaged its base by stepping on it. The lack of phone reception and GPS signal in the area also means it's difficult to find and help any hikers who are injured while trying to get a closer look.
As The Mercury News reports. rangers are now taking action to protect the 379.1ft tall tree by making it officially off-limits to visitors, and imposing a hefty punishment for anyone who breaks the rules.
"Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity due to bloggers, travel writers, and websites of this off-trail tree has resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding Hyperion," said the park in an official statement.
"As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape - or will you be part of its destruction?"
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.