Feds Accuse Yellowstone Guide With Violations; Attorney Calls Charges Bogus
The National Park Service has charged a long-time Yellowstone National Park guide with 17 misdemeanor counts for violating park rules, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Aug. 17 and unsealed Thursday.
But the attorney for Theodore "Ted" Garland, who has a popular Facebook page -- plus a book and Apple podcast -- called "Explore Yellowstone Like a Local," called the charges ludicrous.
"We'll vigorously contest the charges," Jackson attorney Alexander Freeburg said Thursday.
The National Park Service officer who wrote the criminal complaint said a park ranger told him that Garland had a commercial use authorization permit that allowed him to conduct environmental education tours.
The officer wrote that he found evidence of Garland this summer conducting an unauthorized guided tour, trespassed on a thermal ground, got too close to a black bear who was feeding, guided an individual to a closed area at the Brink of the Lower Falls, created a "hot pot" by moving rocks to divert the flow of the river at the base of Mystic Falls, and encouraged a person to jump from a cliff at the Firehole Canyon Swim Area.
Each of these violations is punishable by a jail term of up to six months, a fine of up to $5,000, and up to five years of probation, according to the criminal complaint.
Freeburg said Garland has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Garland is free on a $1,000 unsecured bond. The bond conditions include no travel within Yellowstone or Grand Teton national parks other than on U.S. Highway 191, and no posting on his Facebook page during the case.
Freeburg also is in the process of getting reports from the government and scheduling a status conference, he said.
The government doesn't have much of a case, Freeburg said.
Some of the postings on Garland's Facebook page occurred when he was out of the country, he said.
Other postings were from people who were committing violations and Garland had nothing to do with them, he added.
Garland has a good reputation; has encouraged a lot of people to visit the park through his Facebook page, book and podcasts; and the National Park Service should work with him, Freeburg said.
"Teddy is a pretty colorful guy," he said. "I think he actually the potential to be a great ambassador for the park."
LOOK: Historical Wyoming License Plates Since 1914