Opal Pool

This April 2013 photo by National Park Service photographer Jim Peaco shows Opal Pool in the Midway Geyser Basin.

A federal judge has banned two Philadelphia women from Yellowstone National Park, sentenced them to two days in jail and fined them for leaving a park boardwalk and damaging Opal Pool.

The sentencing comes after witnesses saw the women — Tara Davoli, 31, and Sarah Piotrowski, 30 — walking off of the boardwalk June 11 at the Midway Geyser Basin. A news release from the Department of Justice said the women damaged orange bacterial mats at Opal Pool.

“Multiple witnesses observed the two walking on the feature and confronted them in an effort to get them to stop,” the news release said.

Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman sentenced both women to two days of imprisonment and ordered them to each pay a $350 fine plus $106.92 in restitution.

Restitution was based on a damage assessment done by the park’s geologist and a thermal research crew.

The women are banned from Yellowstone for two years and will serve two years of unsupervised probation, the department said.

“Just taking a few steps off the boardwalk in a thermal area may seem harmless, but it can really damage the ecosystem and potentially put visitors in danger,” U.S. Attorney Mark A. Klaassen said in a statement. “We support the National Park Service and park rangers who work to enforce these rules so we can all continue to enjoy amazing places like Yellowstone and preserve the park for future generations.”

Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly lauded the outcome of the case, which was investigated by the National Park Service.

“The successful investigation and prosecution of these types of cases help prevent future degradation of resources committed by irresponsible visitors,” Sholly said in a statement.

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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