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Visitors Caught Near World’s Largest Tree Now Face Prison Sentence

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Visitors Caught Near World’s Largest Tree Now Face Prison Sentence

People face jail and a huge fine if they are caught near the world's largest tree.

The 380ft redwood, which was 'discovered' in 2006, is thought to be between 600 and 800 years old, and stands proudly in California's Redwood National Park.

As such, the impressive specimen is protected by park officials, who have tried hard to keep its location under wraps.

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However, despite their best efforts, it has become a must-see for tourists, who have been known to leave behind rubbish and even human waste at the park.

Experts are concerned that the tree and its surrounding ecology could be badly harmed by visitors if they continue to flout the rules and trample over the site.

So in a bid to protect it, the park has now announced that anyone caught going near the tree, named Hyperion after the Greek titan of heavenly light, face six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Visitors are banned from getting near the world's largest tree. Credit: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy
Visitors are banned from getting near the world's largest tree. Credit: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy
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An official statement released by the park last week said that visitors must choose whether they want to help preserve the tree or be part of its 'destruction'.

It said: "There is no trail to Hyperion. Hyperion is located within a closed area. Hiking within this closure could result in a $5,000 fine and 6 months in jail.

"Since its 'discovery' in 2006, this tree has been on many tree-enthusiast’s bucket lists.

"Hyperion is located off trail through dense vegetation and requires heavy ‘bushwhacking’ in order to reach the tree.

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"Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity due to bloggers, travel writers, and websites of this off-trail tree has resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding Hyperion. 

"As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape - or will you be part of its destruction?"

People face jail time and a fine if they are caught flouting the rules. Credit: robertharding/Alamy
People face jail time and a fine if they are caught flouting the rules. Credit: robertharding/Alamy

Leonel Arguello, the park’s chief of natural resources, told SFGate: "People have the right to come and enjoy their parks.

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"However, our concern has to do with the safety of visitors and the protection of resources. And when we see potential damage, we have to make decisions that protect those things.

"At some point, the top will blow out or some other tree will grow faster, and it won’t be the tallest tree.

"We don’t want to make yet another official trail that we have to maintain for a tree that likely won’t be the tallest tree in the future."

He added: "If someone were to get hurt down there, it’d be a while before we could get to them and extract them. These are all reasons why we’re playing it safe and protecting our resources."

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Featured Image Credit: lucky-photographer/robertharding/Alamy

Topics: News, US News

Dominic Smithers
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