Hiker banned from Canyon for three years
By CYNDY COLE
Sun Staff Reporter
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
A 53-year-old man from Jackson Hole, Wyo., has been banned from the Grand Canyon and all other national parks in the country for three years after being convicted of intimidating and threatening a Park Service employee.
Self-proclaimed "permit outlaw" Gary Clayton Palmer pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and was sentenced to probation and to undergo a psychological evaluation after sending e-mails to a Grand Canyon National Park ranger in January that grew more threatening. U.S. Magistrate Mark Aspey ordered Palmer last week to stay 10 miles from the boundaries of the Grand Canyon and to avoid contacting the employee again, as well.
The ranger cited Palmer, in person, in 2003 for camping in the Grand Canyon without a backcountry permit -- after Palmer had posted that he planned to do so on an online forum -- leading at the time to 3 years of probation.
Permits are required for camping below the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Subsequently, someone with an e-mail account matching Palmer's name e-mailed the park ranger repeatedly, requesting a response.
"Only 7 more days and my 3 years probation will be up from my hiking without a permit ... Be sure to look for me in the canyon this coming year. I still refuse to use a permit to sleep on the ground and carry all my own stuff. But now I will keep one eye over my shoulder as I tramp around 'your' national park ..." someone at an e-mail address listed as Gary Palmer wrote to the ranger in 2005, according to court documents.
This continued, with more description of how he would subvert the rules, starting a National Park Service investigation that eventually led to prosecution by Camille Bibles, assistant U.S. attorney for Arizona.
In January, someone from the same e-mail account wrote a letter to the same ranger stating, in part, "... I am mad, but yes, I dont want to come back because I am afraid I might look you up and do something I might (quite dought it tho) regret later [sic]."
And the writer said he would certainly hike the canyon without permits again.
"I resent the future when good honest citizens of these here lousy united states finally get tired of all the bull government has stuff down our gullets for too many years. If I do come back to the canyon, I will and you can bet on it be hiking in the canyon with out permission from you or your agency ...[sic]"
The ranger involved began carrying his weapon off-duty, which he had not done previously.
Palmer was arrested in March, in Zion National Park, on charges of threatening, intimidating or intentionally interfering with a Grand Canyon ranger.
He has lived and worked near national parks for 30 years and has convictions for indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and camping without a permit.
He was convicted of criminal trespass in Flagstaff in 2003, according to court documents.
In addition to being banned from all national parks and Northern Arizona University for three years, he was held until his sentencing last week and will be fined $10.