Please stop holding gender reveal parties in our National Parks, wildlife officials beg

Wildfire on mountain
A California couple pled guilty to manslaughter on Friday after their gender reveal party sparked a deadly wildfire (Image credit: Getty)

A California couple whose gender reveal party sparked a deadly wildfire pled guilty to charges including manslaughter this week, while wildlife officials begged people to stop holding destructive events in National Parks.

On September 5, 2020, Refugio and Angelina Jimenez ignited a pyrotechnic device for a photo shoot at their gender reveal party in El Dorado Ranch Park in the eastern foothills of the San Bernadino mountains. The device sparked a fire that spread to 22,744 acres including a section of San Bernadino National Forest, burning for 71 days. The wildfire destroyed 20 properties, injuring 13 and killing one firefighter.

In court on Friday, the husband received one year in county jail, 200 hours of community service and two years of felony probation while his wife was sentenced to a year of probation and 400 hours of community service.

In an article in the Sacramento Bee, Beth Pratt, the executive director of the National Wildlife Federation California, says people need to be held accountable for the damage they cause in public spaces like National Parks.

"I ask that people really think about the impact they can have when they’re in some of the few protected places on the planet where wildlife is supposed to be relatively free from human impacts.”

Just two weeks ago, Pratt also publicly expressed her disgust at an image of a couple sprinkling pink glitter on the snow in Yosemite National Park during a gender reveal party.

How to leave no trace

When venturing outdoors, whether to a National Park or deeper into the backcountry, you automatically subscribe to the seven ‘leave no trace’ principles, as enshrined in 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimise campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors

Following these principles helps protect wildlife and keeps nature wild for future generations to enjoy. Learn more in our article on how to leave no trace when hiking or pitching in the wild.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.