Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instagram

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hippiepunkpirate
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Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instagram

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Oct 22 2014 6:56 pm

A young woman traveling the West has left paintings on rocks and rock art panels in numerous National Parks, and documented it all via Instagram. She is not yet in custody. Here's the article:

http://www.modernhiker.com/2014/10/21/i ... nal-parks/
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Oct 25 2014 11:02 am

On the Daily Sun website, each article has a survey question. Simply click a survey choice and the full article will show.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by neilends » Oct 26 2014 12:51 pm

Valinda Elliott's remorse was obvious. Even after the prosecution said they wouldn't pursue charges, she showed up and met town residents face to face to say she was sorry. And she helped clean out some burned out homes. Prosecuting her would have been a waste of an enormous amount of government resources. Trials are expensive uses of scarce resources, and it's irresponsible for prosecutors to pursue them without a good chance of winning a conviction. Just at all the failed federal prosecutions in recent years, against high profile defendants.

As for Nocket, I think a lot depends on how much financial cost there is to erase her stupid, cheap, low quality vandalism (I refuse to call it art). Gregg caused billions of dollars in damage, much of it irreplaceable. The firefighters who fought the fire had to risk their lives because of him. Homeowners were in danger of injury or worse. Those factors are a lot less compelling as to Nocket, so I'm just pointing out that we shouldn't expect a sentence of 10 years if we use Gregg as the standard.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Oct 26 2014 5:25 pm

neilends wrote:Those factors are a lot less compelling as to Nocket, so I'm just pointing out that we shouldn't expect a sentence of 10 years if we use Gregg as the standard.
Looking at the precedent for crimes committed against public lands, including the Gregg case, I agree it would be very unexpected to see Nocket receive a sentence in the 10 year+ range. When I expressed the sentiment of her getting upwards of 10 years, that was definitely and opinion and not an expectation.

I'm not familiar with the actual law on most of this stuff, but it does seem that arson crimes on forested lands are treated similar to arson crimes on homes and other developed properties. Setting a forest fire can have much greater ramifications than simply setting a building on fire. For instance, a typical structural fire will be contained by firefighters within a number of hours and is unlikely to spread beyond the individual building where the fire was set. A wildland arson, if done during the worst conditions, could take weeks or months to contain and would require many, many times the workforce and resources to combat in comparison to a structural fire. Of course, some wildland arsons may result in a small fire that is contained within a few hours, but in the case of Rodeo-Chediski, and arson resulted in a fire many times the magnitude of a typical structural arson. Another factor that makes the two different is the fact that besides "lost memories" of a house fire, the damage from a structural fire can essentially be rebuilt in the form of a new structure. In the case of a large-scale destructive wildland fire, the damage will for the most part be only reversed by the time it takes the forest to heal itself, which is much, much longer than it takes to rebuild a structure.

I was curious what the law says about arson so I googled "minimum sentence for arson". From what I gathered, the federal law stipulates a minimum 5 year sentence and maximum 15 year sentence for arson cases that do not involve a human death. Another bit of information stated that arson crimes fall on a scale of magnitude (similar to that of murder):

First-degree arson - The act in which the arsonist sets fire to an occupied domain or building such as a school.
Second-degree arson - The act in which the arsonist sets fire to an unoccupied building such as an empty barn.
Third-degree arson - The act in which the arsonist sets fire to an abandoned building or an abandoned area of space such as a field.

It seems that setting a forest fire would fall under third-degree arson, which would indicate a less serious crime. Gregg received a 10 year sentence, which falls dead in the middle of the minimum and maximum, which is probably based on the precedents set for third-degree arson and the fact that this was an extreme case of destruction. As I stated above, arson on wildlands can often manifest huge disasters, and Gregg's hand in Rodeo-Chediski I think resulted in much more long-term destruction than almost any structural second-degree arson could have caused. As such, I think that the law should not distiguish between second and third degree arson. Also, I imagine that in most places, especially the eastern US where most of the precedents of law have originated, setting a third-degree arson, such as on a field, would probably not result in much destruction (compared to a typical Western wildfire) due to higher humidity and a greater moisture content in soils and vegetation. As such, an arson committed in the forest of West, especially in the current state of drought conditions and excessive fuel loads, is completely different from the implied definition of third-degree arson. Essentially, I think Gregg's conviction should have carried harsher punishment, but arson law in this country has not caught up to the current conditions in this part of the country.

To relate this back to the topic at hand, Gregg's sentence was lighter than it should have been, and if Nocket's sentence is based partially of the precedent of the Gregg case, Nocket will also receive a sentence that is too light. In my opinion, Gregg's sentence should've been 20 years, the maximum for a non-deadly arson. Of course, the Nocket case is much different from an arson. No way she even gets 10 years, and probably won't even do time.

The Nocket case I think delves into a realm probably not considered in our country's laws to a great degree. Our National Parks are part of the national legacy of this country. Defacing our National Parks is an attack on the image of the country, somewhat similar to burning an American flag. I think that's a good starting point for Nocket's sentence. Burning an American flag has a maximum sentence of one year in prison. Following his line of punishment, and using the maximum punishment, I think Nocket should get a year for each painting she defiled upon a National Park. There are of course other nuances of the crime, such as restitution for cleaning of the vandalism, but I suppose this post is already quite long so I won't delve any further. Hopefully I've made some clear and reasonable points here.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by neilends » Oct 26 2014 6:04 pm

Burning an American flag is protected speech under the Constitution. Not wanting to debate that here but just pointing it out. If there's a statute out there that bans it, the statute is unconstitutional and has never been enforced.

I think you make some good points. Gregg's sentence may have been lighter than you'd expect if he was, as I suspect, a first time offender. It would've been even lighter if it weren't for the aggravated nature of his mental intent in starting the fire (pure greed, with malicious recklessness).

In this age of increasing social media stunts and decreasing care for our outdoors, maybe it's time for us to look at elevating the sentences for these wildlife crimes. Write your Congressmen!
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Oct 26 2014 9:06 pm

neilends wrote:Burning an American flag is protected speech under the Constitution. Not wanting to debate that here but just pointing it out. If there's a statute out there that bans it, the statute is unconstitutional and has never been enforced.
Great point! I had forgotten about that. In my quick research, I discovered the statute, but was not reminded of the free speech protection.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by SpiderLegs » Oct 28 2014 6:02 pm

So this crime has officially jumped into pop culture. As I was standing in line at the grocery store I got to hear a 14 year old girl explain to her mom all about "you know, like this woman is doing graffiti... but not on walls you know....like on rocks...it's a pretty big deal".
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by chumley » Oct 30 2014 3:24 pm

Lots of charges dropped and plea bargains in similar social media case:
http://www.kcet.org/living/travel/socal ... court.html
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by autumnstars » Oct 30 2014 8:12 pm

hippiepunkpirate wrote:I strongly disagree with autumnstars in the opinion that Nocket should be made to clean up the paint as a reasonable punishment.
I guess I implied that removing the paint should be her only punishment. That was not my intention. I just think it would be more effective if a part of the punishment could fit the crime.
What penalties will actually be handed down remains to be seen.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by neilends » Oct 31 2014 11:23 am

chumley wrote:Lots of charges dropped and plea bargains in similar social media case:
http://www.kcet.org/living/travel/socal ... court.html
Interesting story. This strikes me as a normally-handled case also.

Prosecutors have to be cautious and pragmatic in these cases. It's juries that decide guilt or innocence, and jurors are made up of all kinds of people from the community, not just passionate and responsible hikers like most HAZers. The defendant in this case just didn't fit the profile of someone who deserves to be tossed in prison for years. While ignorance of the law is most definitely not recognized as a defense to criminal charges, the reality is that true ignorance of the law causes many people (jurors) to sympathize with someone facing the wrath of the government. And that makes throwing the book at them difficult, if you're a prosecutor.

This guy, Trevor Lee, is only a few degrees removed from most of us: he discovered a love of being in the American outdoors, and got addicted. He hiked up to peaks and explored canyons and obviously couldn't get enough of it. He wanted to share his euphoria, and so do most of us, but his particular methods of sharing are where he and HAZers part ways (or do they?): campfires during no-burn designations, camping in a restricted area, camping without a permit, skateboarding off of a rock-climbing wall, and camping at Half Dome during the government shut-down. .

Add to that the other factors about his life separating him from hardened criminals: he was engaged in community service with a youth ministry, and volunteered for the Special Olympics. When he was charged, he wasn't defiant. Instead, he admitted his foolishness immediately and expressed remorse. Here's what he said at his sentencing in court:

"Looking back on my time in Yosemite, I would have definitely done things differently," explained Lee in a court statement. "I would have made better decisions. I never had bad intentions; I love Yosemite and the beautiful community that lives there. I just wanted to capture Yosemite and share it with others who will never be able to. I never intentionally damaged nature or promoted any abuse of nature. I just wanted people to see how much I loved Yosemite in hopes I'd encourage them to see it for themselves."

Stupid. Young. Learned his lesson.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by trekkin_gecko » Oct 31 2014 5:50 pm


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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by SpiderLegs » Nov 01 2014 4:38 am

Have read a couple of articles about how Casey Nocket has been named as the person of interest in this case. Apparently she is now feeling remorseful for her actions according to one of the articles. (i.e. - her daddy's lawyers have gotten to her in an attempt to keep his special little snowflake out of jail)
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by Jim_H » Nov 01 2014 7:59 am

@SpiderLegs
Should this person be found guilt, I hope many hours of community service, not jail, are the punishment. She really should be working in a park cleaning toilets, for restitution.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by neilends » Dec 09 2014 2:20 pm

In furtherance of this general topic... A 75-year old Grand Canyon river guide was convicted of letting his tourist group dump crap into the river:

Evidence at trial showed that Niemi was the trip leader of a 12 day trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon National Park. He was apprised by National Parks staff at the outset of his trip of the requirements of his permit including that driftwood could not be collected for fires and, at the end of the trip, the group take with them all refuse, trash and garbage produced.

During the course trip, trash was dumped into the river on a daily basis, either by Niemi or at his direction as the trip leader, and Niemi collected driftwood, which he used to make fires each night.


http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevad ... fined-2500

The judge in this case, Aspey, is the federal magistrate assigned to oversee all Northern Arizona federal matters. He's an outstanding and no-nonsense judge and you northerners are lucky to have him in charge up there.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 09 2014 4:51 pm

On a private, non-commercial, do-it-yourself river trip there is no "guide." There is a permit holder, who can be anyone with or without experience, and but there must also be someone with whitewater boating experience, called a "trip leader" or "head boatman," but there is no "guide." Park Service will not allow you to call yourself a guide if you are on a private river trip.

I've been a private boater and permit holder myself, and have sat through the 45-minute orientation at Lees Ferry a number of times. I've also, several times, read every sentence of the rather long rules and regs for private boaters. There is no excuse for this law-breaking. People like this guy deserve to have the book thrown at them. They will just make it harder for everyone else.

In the winter the Park allows driftwood collection, but many river permits in winter go unfilled (so don't complain if you never win a permit. Put in for winter!)

Of course all trash and poop must be carried out and disposed of properly after the trip. Dishwater and pee can go into the river.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by nonot » Dec 09 2014 7:06 pm

I was under the impression that driftwood and only driftwood could be used for fires. Isn't that why they make river trips take along fire pans?
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 09 2014 8:33 pm

nonot wrote:I was under the impression that driftwood and only driftwood could be used for fires. Isn't that why they make river trips take along fire pans?
Yes and no. Driftwood can be used only during the winter season. The rest of the time everyone brings wood and charcoal if they want a fire. A fire pan with a fire blanket underneath it are requirements.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by neilends » Dec 09 2014 8:56 pm

azbackpackr wrote:On a private, non-commercial, do-it-yourself river trip there is no "guide." There is a permit holder, who can be anyone with or without experience, and but there must also be someone with whitewater boating experience, called a "trip leader" or "head boatman," but there is no "guide." Park Service will not allow you to call yourself a guide if you are on a private river trip.
Thanks but I was speaking colloquially, and not in an attempt to comply with the Code of Federal Regulations et seq.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 10 2014 6:44 am

That's okay. Later I found out the guy HAS been a paid guide in the past, although this news article didn't mention that. (This story is is all over the boating websites, of course.) A lot of people know the guy, in fact. He'd been down the Grand many times before, in fact, so he was not any kind of noob. I'm sure the Park will also ban him from future trips, as they have for other violators.
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by neilends » Jan 20 2015 2:00 pm

I think this is the right topic to post in. Not sure why the page is cut-off but you get the gist of the story, and the two new bozos the feds are now seeking:

"U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigation on the Red Rock Ranger District is seeking information concerning vandalism to an archaeological site known as Jordan Cave near the Jordan Trailhead parking lot in Sedona. On Dec. 16, 2014, several individuals in Jordan Cave were seen removing and throwing rocks from the walls of the site over a steep embankment. Some of the rocks were also dug from the prehistoric floor of the site and were thrown over the embankment. Law Enforcement is trying to identify and locate the individuals in the below photo who might be able to assist in the investigation regarding the vandalism."

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino/ ... PRD3827709
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Re: Traveler vandalizes National Parks, documents via Instag

Post by JasonCleghorn » Jan 20 2015 2:05 pm

Why would a guy that is 'in' to hiking enough to buy two trekking poles do something like that? I mean, honestly, I can see teenagers/ruffians/youthful indiscretion types doing it but not a 'hiker' as he at least appears to be...

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