Those who see the world’s tallest tree fined $5,000

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

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

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

Hyperion's trunk has a diameter of 4.84 m (13 ft).

Hyperion’s trunk has a diameter of 4.84 m (13 ft).

Stephen Mohle/Shutterstock

“Hyperion lies far through dense vegetation and requires heavy ‘bushing’ to reach the trees,” said a statement on the national park’s website.

“Despite the difficult journey, the growing popularity of bloggers, travel writers and the websites of this off-the-trail tree has resulted in 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?”

Lionel Argüello, the park’s head of natural resources, told news site San Francisco Gate that the area has limited cellphone and GPS service, meaning it can be very challenging to rescue any lost or injured pedestrians in the area.

In addition to erosion and damage at the base of the tree, there are secondary issues that come from the influx of people.

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

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

Wildfires are a growing concern in 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 fires.

Hyperion Tree Image via Shutterstock