ST. GEORGE — Professional athlete Marshall Miller recently plead guilty to two counts of BASE Jumping in Zion National Park.
BASE jumping is the recreational sport of jumping from fixed objects (building, antenna, span and earth) using a parachute to descend safely to the ground.
On March 28, Zion rangers received an anonymous tip that a group of three were planning to BASE jump off of either the Great White Throne or Cable Mountain. Rangers staked out these locations and observed one individual jump from the Great White Throne. This person, identified as Marshall Miller from Salt Lake City, was apprehended later that night after initially evading the rangers. Miller had also been a person of interest in a BASE jumping incident that took place during the government shut down in January of 2018.
Miller pleaded guilty to jumping from the feature known as the Great White Throne. He also confirmed his involvement in jumping off Lady Mountain in January of 2018 and plead guilty to this incident as well. The court ordered a $5,000 fine and a two-year ban from Zion National Park. The court admonished Miller that any subsequent offense would result in a jail sentence.
Additionally, Miller was charged with violating a climbing closure of the Great White Throne. As of March 1, the Great White Throne climbing routes have been closed to all visitors due to nesting peregrine falcons. Closures are implemented due to the falcon’s sensitivity to disturbance during the nesting season. If disturbed, the nesting pair may abandon their nest site and not nest again until the following year.
On the evening that Miller BASE jumped from the Great White Throne, he was wearing a wingsuit that allowed him to glide a distance before deploying his parachute and landing in the area below Angels Landing. The cliff face below Angels Landing is a known California condor nesting area. On Sept. 25, 2019, California condor chick #1000 took its first flight from its nest on the cliffs below Angels Landing, becoming the first wild-hatched chick to successfully fledge within Zion National Park since recovery efforts began in the late 1990s, and likely the first in Zion in over 100 years.
“BASE jumping near nesting falcons and condors increases the chances of these parents being displaced or flushed from their nest or roost site, which will increase the nest’s vulnerability to predators and could potentially result in nest failure,” Zion National Park biologist Janice Stroud-Settles said.
BASE jumping is illegal in all national parks. Since 2013, the Zion National Park Search and Rescue Team has recovered two bodies related to BASE jumping in the park.
“BASE jumping is an extremely dangerous sport,” Zion National Park Chief Ranger Daniel Fagergren said. “When a fatality occurs, the Search and Rescue Team often has to manage an additional amount of risk while recovering the body from the extreme vertical terrain. We would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office in Saint George, Utah for their support in prosecuting this important case.”
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