(CNN) — Visiting Hyperion, certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest living tree, is officially prohibited.
California’s Sequoia National Park issued a statement last week saying anyone caught near the tree could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The tree, which sits deep within the park and has no trails leading to it, has faced serious environmental degradation from thrill-seekers who have visited since 2006, when it was found by a pair of naturalists. .
The Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is 115.92 meters tall and its name comes from Greek mythology: Hyperion was one of the Titans and the father of the Sun god Helios and the Moon goddess Selene.
“The Hyperion is off the trail through dense vegetation and requires forceful hacking through the forest to reach the tree,” says a statement on the national park’s website.
“Despite the difficult journey, the growing popularity due to bloggers, travel writers and websites of this off-trail tree has resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding Hyperion,” the statement said.
“As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape, or you will be part of its destruction.”
Leonel Arguello, the park’s head of Natural Resources, told the San Francisco Gate news site that the area has limited cell phone and GPS service, meaning it can be very difficult to rescue any lost or injured hikers in the area.
In addition to erosion and damage to the base of the tree, there are secondary problems resulting from the influx of people.
“There was litter, and people were creating even more side paths to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste behind — it’s not a good thing,” Arguello said.
Human visitors are not the only risk to these giant trees.
Wildfires are a growing concern in California’s national parks.
In 2021, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park officials took extreme measures to protect some of the world’s largest trees from fire.
General Sherman, considered the largest tree in the world, determined by its density and not its height, since it is shorter than the Hyperion, was wrapped in an “aluminum-based burn-resistant material”, similar to paper. aluminum, as a way to keep it safe during the devastating fire at the KNP complex.