Oklahoma man ordered to rewrite part of a book in sentencing for crimes at Yellowstone

Unauthorized tour guide urged others to break park rules

By: - July 19, 2021 5:02 pm

Comet NEOWISE is seen with the Roosevelt Arch in the foreground at the north Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The town of Gardiner, Montana, is in the background. (Michael Poland | USGS).

A federal court magistrate has sentenced an Oklahoma man to jail, fines and has ordered him to rewrite part of his book as a result of a conviction for seven counts of illegal activities and violations stemming from his “guided tours” of Yellowstone National Park.

Theodore Eugene Garland, 60, Edmond, Oklahoma, was sentenced by Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman to seven days in jail, $600 in fines and fees, and a one-time payment of $500 to Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund. Garland is also banned from the park until 2022.

Carman also ordered Garland to rewrite an introduction/foreword to his guidebook, “communicating respect for the park and removing references of illegal activity,” according to a press release issued by the United States Attorney for Wyoming.

Garland has social media accounts, a podcast and guidebook which describe his guided tours of Yellowstone National Park, which violated closures and other regulations, and encouraged visitors to do the same. Garland is not an authorized tour guide, and he encouraged visitors to trespass on thermal grounds, a potentially life-endangering and park-damaging exercise. He also violated swimming closures and cliff jumping and the U.S. Attorney’s Office says he encouraged making “hot pots in rivers” as well as disturbing wildlife.

Garland was found guilty on seven counts during a bench trial, April 7 and 8. Originally, prosecutors had charged him with 15 counts of illegal activities and violating national park regulations.

Garland will serve five years of unsupervised probation and shall “not promote violations of laws in the national parks in any way.”

“Enforcing federal criminal laws for the protection of our national parks’ resources will always remain a priority of the United States Attorney’s Office in Wyoming,” said acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray. “That is especially true when a criminal motivated by greed, like Mr. Garland, encourages others to commit more crimes and cause more damage to the treasures of America’s first national park.”

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Darrell Ehrlick
Darrell Ehrlick

Darrell Ehrlick is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Montanan, after leading his native state’s largest paper, The Billings Gazette. He is an award-winning journalist, author, historian and teacher, whose career has taken him to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Wyoming. With Darrell at the helm, the Gazette staff took Montana’s top newspaper award six times in seven years. Darrell's books include writing the historical chapters of “Billings Memories” Volumes I-III, and “It Happened in Minnesota.” He has taught journalism at Winona State University and Montana State University-Billings, and has served on the student publications board of the University of Wyoming.

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