Three men charged with illegal camping, starting a wildfire in US National Park may face up to six months in prison

Sunrise at Isle Royale National Park
The men were charged after the 2022 incident, which damaged park property (Image credit: Posnov)

Three Michigan men have been charged in federal court with offences relating to starting a wildfire and camping illegally in Isle Royale National Park.

The charges stem from the 2022 Mount Franklin Fire, which burned 10 acres of land and was suspected to be human-caused. Now, a news report by the National Park Service alleges that  Dylan Kenneth Wagner, 29, Jason Arden Allard, 28 and Scott Warren Allard, 30 were responsible for the blaze when they illegally camped in the park on August 12 and 13 of that year. 

The three men are accused of camping north of the junction of the Mount Franklin and Tobin Harbor Trails in an area too close to the trail and having a fire that was not in one of the metal rings or grills provided by the park. 

They are now charged with one count of lighting, tending, or using a fire causing damage to real property and one count of violating conditions established by the superintendent of the park, both of which carry a maximum penalty of up to 6 months in prison, up to a $5,000 fine, up to 5 year’s probation, and mandatory restitution.       

“Some of America’s most stunning places are right here in Michigan, including Isle Royale National Park,” says U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. 

“These alleged crimes threatened the safety of park visitors, employees, and the ecosystem that sustains a rich diversity of life. We’re committed to protecting Isle Royale National Park and Michigan’s other national treasures for all to enjoy – today and for generations to come.”  

Isle Royale lies in the middle of giant Lake Superior and requires a three-hour ferry ride or small plane trip to reach, so only a tiny 25,000 people each year bother making the trek. However, this rugged island boasts pristine shoreline, swamps, boreal forests, glacial lakes, several small mountains and is chock full of wildlife including wolves and moose. The island is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide and surrounded by 400 smaller islands.

US National Parks

Isle Royale lies in the middle of giant Lake Superior (Image credit: Getty)

Wildfire safety

Wildfires are growing increasingly more intense as a result of climate change, and even areas that have typically been free of them are starting to be affected. Wildfires are becoming a big issue for many summer campers, especially in western states, and it’s important to check local and regional resources to find out about wildfire risk, whether there's a fire ban in effect, and understand when and how you can have a campfire safely. Learn more in our article on wildfire safety.

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.