Officials at California’s Redwood National Park issued a statement prohibiting members of the public from visiting Hyperion, the world’s tallest tree. The statement issued last week details that anyone found near the tree can face a jail term of up to six months and a $5000 fine.

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Hyperion has been certified by the Guinness World Records to be the tallest living tree in the world today. It was first discovered by naturalists in 2006 and has since then attracted environmentalists, thrill seekers and media personalities. Although the tree sits deep in the park in a location without trails, more people have continued to flock to its location.

Related: California redwoods to be reclaimed by Indigenous groups

“Hyperion is located off trail through dense vegetation and requires heavy ‘bushwhacking’ in order to reach the tree,” reads a statement on the national park’s website. “Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity due to bloggers, travel writers and websites of this off-trail tree has resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding Hyperion.”

According to Leonel Arguello, the park’s chief of natural resources, the area where the tree is located is risky. There are no trails or cellphone coverage with limited GPS service, making it difficult to locate anyone lost or injured there. Further, the prohibition is caused by the damage caused to the surrounding ecosystem by visitors. 

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

The other factors of concern in regards to protecting the tree is wildfire. In 2021, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks took extreme measures to protect the world’s largest tree. They wrapped General Sherman, considered the world’s largest tree, in aluminum-based burn-resistant material to protect it from wildfires.


Lead image via Pexels