October 29, 2014

Several of Lee's shots from Yosemite depicted activities that are illegal in the national park.     Photo: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Yosemite Instagrammer Pleads Guilty in Federal Court

Photographed himself doing illegal activities in the park

Trevor Lee gained a name for himself with his stunning photos of camping on top of Eagle Peak in Yosemite National Park, climbing trees, and enjoying the wilderness. But it turns out that some of Lee’s shots, which he posted on Instagram under the name @trevlee, depict him breaking laws. He pled guilty to five misdemeanor charges earlier this month.

The photos that got Lee in trouble seem innocent at first. According to KCET, a couple of them show a group of friends enjoying a campfire, but in one image, the fire is lit where campfires are not allowed. In the other, Lee had lit a campfire under a ban during the Rim Fire, which started outside Yosemite National Park with a similarly illegal blaze set by a hunter. Lee also faced charges of camping in an off-limits area and camping without a permit.

Other charges include skateboarding off El Capitan and climbing up and camping on Half Dome during the government shutdown. The government eventually dropped these charges after settlement talks.

Two of the more serious charges came from a photo Lee posted in November 2013 of him and a friend climbing giant sequoias in Tuolumne Grove, again during the Rim Fire closure. Climbing a protected species of tree is forbidden.

According to court documents, Lee worked in the park planning events and hikes for visitors and employees.

Lee’s sentence, handed down on October 7, requires him to pay a $1,500 fine and undergo a year of unsupervised probation. He must also acknowledge on his Instagram account that his activities in Yosemite were illegal, and he’ll have to delete the photos.

Lee said in a statement that he would have done things differently: “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 that I’d encourage them to see it for themselves.”


Your Instagram followers will be okay if you skip this shot.     Photo: U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr

Lake Tahoe 'Bear Selfies' Reach Dangerous Level

Dozens of visitors approach animals for photos

The U.S. Forest Service is threatening to close the area around South Lake Tahoe’s Taylor Creek if a dangerous pattern of visitor “bear selfies” doesn’t abate.

Each fall, bears congregate at the water outside Taylor Creek Visitors Center to intercept the kokanee salmon run. This year, photo-snapping visitors have congregated around the bears. The USFS released a reminder to keep a safe distance after the problem escalated to unsafe levels last week. ABC News reports that at one point, about 30 people were taking pictures with bears, including one cub that came within two feet of tourists.

  Photo: ladynus/Instagram

“It is presenting a safety issue. We are afraid someone is going to get attacked,” Lisa Herron, spokesperson for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. While bear attacks are rare, Herron has already heard of one bear charging a group that got too close. If the bears don’t injure the tourists, cars might—people have stopped along California State Route 89 to run across the highway for better vantage points. 

In addition to putting themselves at risk, tourists are damaging the park and endangering the bears. People who wander off trails to get closer to the animals trample protected plants and disturb creek beds. In its reminder, the USFS added that provoked bears might have to be put down.


Nearly 1,000 migrant workers have died in Qatar since 2010, when the country began constructing several new stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.     Photo: typhoonski/Thinkstock

World Cup Scheduling Issues Scare Olympic Committee

FIFA says Qatar 2022 will not conflict with the Winter Games

FIFA settled its misunderstanding with the Olympic Committee on Tuesday, assuring IOC vice president Craig Reedie that the World Cup in Qatar will not clash with the 2022 Winter Games.

The confusion arose earlier this month when FIFA president Sepp Blatter raised the possibility of holding the 2022 World Cup in January and February instead of the customary June and July. Astounded by this suggestion, Gian Franco Kasper of the International Ski Federation spoke out. “It happened only two years ago that FIFA realized it might be warm in the summertime in Qatar,” he said at a press conference. “FIFA, please stay out of our winter months…. If you are sweating or not, that’s not our problem.”

FIFA vowed Tuesday that the events will not overlap, though it still hasn’t set definitive dates for Qatar. The IOC is pushing for November and December, but it’s just as likely FIFA will schedule it for the spring.

Meanwhile, the IOC will announce the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics in July. Oslo withdrew its bid this month, leaving only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as candidates. The resounding lack of public support for Olympic bids this year is credited to the price of the Sochi Games, which ran somewhere around $51 billion.