Visitors to the world’s tallest tree face $5,000 fines

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California’s Redwood National Park issued a statement Anyone caught near the tree last week could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The tree, which is deep in the park and has no trail leading to it, has faced severe environmental degradation from visiting thrill-seekers since 2006, when it was discovered by a pair of naturalists.

The coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) tree is 115.92 meters (380 ft) tall and takes its name from Greek mythology — Hyperion was one of the Titans and father of the sun god Helios and the moon goddess Selene.

The diameter of the Hyperion's trunk is 4.84 meters (13 ft).

The diameter of the Hyperion’s trunk is 4.84 meters (13 ft).

Stephen Moehl/Shutterstock

“Hyperion is located on a trail through dense vegetation and requires extensive ‘bushwhacking’ to reach the tree,” reads a statement on the national park’s website.

“Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity by bloggers, travel writers and websites of this off-trail tree has led to habitat destruction around Hyperion,” the statement said. “As a visitor, you must decide whether you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape – or will you be part of its destruction?”

The park’s chief of natural resources, Lionel Arguello, told the news site San Francisco Gate That cellphone and GPS service in the area is limited, which means it can be very challenging to rescue any lost or injured hikers in the area.

In addition to erosion and damage to tree bases, there are secondary problems that result from the influx of people.

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“There was garbage, and people were making even more side roads to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste — that’s not a good thing,” Arguello said.

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Human visitors are not the only threat to these giant trees.

Wildfires are a concern throughout California’s national parks.

In 2021, officials at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks took extreme measures to protect some of the world’s largest trees from fire.

Hyperion tree image via Shutterstock

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