Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yellowstone Officials: treasure hunt is dangerous, illegal

Tim Reid, Chief Ranger at Yellowstone National Park, says park rangers found a group of five to six people that had metal detectors shovels and planned to dig. These are "violations of laws that govern Yellowstone and protect Yellowstone," explained Reid. They had even built a raft out of fallen trees and other natural items in the park, and tried to cross the river. But the rivers and creeks in Yellowstone are moving fast right now and Reid says they had to perform a swift current rescue. A dangerous task for all involved.                            

Reid says these hunters are searching for the Forrest Fenn treasure.  Fenn, lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is known for his memoir titled, "The Thrill of the Chase." It was published in 2010. The book includes a poem with clues he says will lead people to his treasure, worth millions. In 2013, Fenn revealed the treasure was hidden in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, and 5,000 feet above sea level. Not long after the clue was revealed, a man was arrested in Yellowstone National Park.

"The primary reason for being in the park was to look for the alleged treasure," said Reid. The court documents from 2013 show the man pleaded guilty for violating conditions of backcountry permitting. The man was fined $1,000 and banned from the park. The most recent offenders are facing a similar fate. "You can't use metal detectors, you can't dig and even if you find something you can't remove it," said Reid. According to federal law, that even includes rocks. The owner of Earth's Treasures in Bozeman Montana sells metal detectors and gold pans - even maps that indicate where you are allowed to dig and are not allowed to dig, such as a national park. There is currently one ongoing case in Yellowstone involving a Forrest Fenn treasure hunter. "We will be seeking the most aggressive penalty... Including cost recovery and banned from the park," said Reid. "National parks are here to use. But it is a privilege, not necessarily a right."


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