Law enforcement rangers are searching for members of a 50-person group that laid down an illegal 1,000-foot dirt bike track through a historic Mormon Row hayfield. The hayfield was in the process of being rehabilitated with native grass and sagebrush.

Teton Interagency Dispatch took a call about the off-road escapades at 8:45 p.m. Saturday. The reporting party took a cellphone video of the group, which was also illegally flying a drone.

“The group began to break down the course and load the mini bikes as the reporting party called the park and recorded their activities,” Teton park officials said Wednesday in a press statement. “Park rangers immediately responded to the scene, but the group already left the area.”

In their wake was the nearly quarter-mile track, which ranged from 2 to 10 feet wide and reportedly caused significant resource damage.

The track cut through a historic hayfield used by Jackson Hole settlers that’s in the process of being restored to a more natural state. The area damaged by the dirt bikes was reseeded in 2019, according to the park’s statement.

Taking a motor vehicle off-road in a national park can net a $5,000 fine and jail time. The offending party is also potentially on the hook to pay for response costs and resource damages.

The National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch is assisting with the case and is looking for information about the identity of any individuals who were in the Mormon Row area around 8 p.m. on July 18.

Call or text the tip line at 888-653-0009 or email information to nps_isb@nps.gov. Tips can be anonymous.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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