National Park

Utah man who destroyed part of Grand Teton National Park with motorcycle race gets probation and fined

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A Utah man who staged an illegal motorcycle race causing damage to thousands of square feet of sensitive and historic land in Grand Teton National Park has been probed and fined after pleading guilty on charges earlier this week.

Jacob Hobbs pleaded guilty to property damage and driving a motor vehicle off the road after he was filmed in July 2020 as one of dozens of bikers and bystanders tearing up the area near historic Mormon Row of the national park.

He was initially charged with unlawfully destroying and damaging property, unlawfully destroying and disturbing Grand Teton’s natural state plants and products, failing to report an incident of property damage exceeding $300, destroying a monument and driving a motor vehicle in a restricted area.

For his guilty plea, Hobbs received 18 months probation and a $9,000 fine.

He faced 27 months in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Hobbs is believed to have been running these races since 2013.

“Bad Actors”

Rob Wallace, former deputy secretary of the US Department of the Interior, told the Cowboy State Daily earlier this year that “bad actors” who maliciously or ignorantly desecrate areas of the park must be given a message to end similar incidents.

“The National Park Service and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation have embarked on a multi-year, $5 million project to restore the historic character of Mormon Row,” Wallace said.

“To think that these vandals could undo in minutes what took years of hard work and money to put together is a pretty sad statement about how these people view our public lands,” he said. .


Video of the races showed Hobbs in the middle of a “racetrack” marked out with white flags, speaking into a megaphone. Several videos provided as evidence show that the damage to the area is getting worse as the day progresses.

Hobbs’ attorney told a ranger in August 2020 that Hobbs and the group were only in the area for about an hour and that Hobbs believed they were on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property. She also said there were no official races, drug use or betting.

The ranger discovered that at least two awards were handed out during the race that night in July, one for ‘most improved rider’ and one for ‘run what you’ve done’.

Grand Teton officials did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Friday.

Mormon row

The hay fields along Mormon Row are part of a 10-year project that began in 2014 to clear non-native grasses and replant the area with 37 native plant species to restore the site to steppe habitat. mugwort.

The project is a collaborative effort between the National Park Service, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Teton Conservation District.

The various agencies had invested years of effort into the project, removing invasive plants and seeding native species. The area damaged by bikers had been reseeded last year.

The area is important habitat for elk, bison, pronghorn, moose, sage grouse, and a variety of other wildlife, all of which depend on the sagebrush steppe.

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