Visitors have “devastated” the areas around the world’s tallest tree. Now it’s forbidden

Hyperion, the tallest tree in the world, soaring 380 feet in Redwood National and State Parks, now has a viewing price nearly as high as its tallest branches.

Anyone caught in the area of ​​the towering coast redwood now faces a $5,000 fine or six months behind bars.

The National Park Service recently imposed the penalty after the area around Sequoia sempervirens – its scientific name – was trampled and trashed by visitors who wandered through the closed section of the park.

Park officials say an increasing number of visitors — some well-known tree lovers, others social media followers — have devastated the area, leaving behind trash and droppings and damaging the habitat around Hyperion. authorities said in a statement released last week.

Visitors trampled and damaged the base of the tree and crushed and killed the ferns growing around it. They may also have damaged other trees and undergrowth as they “crossed” through the dense undergrowth of the surrounding forest to get to Hyperion, park officials said. Redwoods have relatively shallow root systems – and there’s no trail to the tree that Guinness World Records declared the world’s tallest.

In addition to closing the area and threatening fines or jail time, the park service has also appealed to the environmental conscience of visitors.

“As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of preserving this unique landscape,” the park service said, “or will you be part of destroying it?”

Hikers heading for the tree also risk getting lost in the thick forest as cell phone service and GPS signals are poor in the area. The park never built a pathway to the tree, which could have helped protect the area, authorities said, because Hyperion, discovered by two researchers in 2006, may not be the tallest tree of the world for a long time and might cease to be an attraction. Sequoias often shrink when lightning or high winds cause them to lose parts of their tops. Also, according to the park service, trails are expensive to build and maintain.

According to the park service, the RNSP is full of former world record holders.

While the redwoods are impressive, Hyperion doesn’t really stand out, park officials said, and isn’t worth the risk of an illicit visit, park officials said.

“A view of Hyperion doesn’t match its hype,” the statement said. “Hyperion’s trunk is small compared to many other ancient redwoods and its height cannot be observed from the ground. … There are hundreds of trees on designated trails that are more impressive to view from the base of the tree.

Recommended trails include the popular Tall Trees Grove hike, which they say is steep and requires an online permit two days in advance.

RNSP, which bills itself as the home of the world’s tallest trees, is a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve that contains nearly half of the world’s ancient redwoods, several – including Hyperion – that are five stories tall more than the Statue of Liberty.

Michael Cabanatuan (he/him) is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @ctuan

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