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Trashy Colorado River rafter fined $2,500

KINGMAN, Ariz. — An Alaska man has been ordered to pay almost $2,500 for a fine and court costs associated with federal prosecution for dumping refuse into the Colorado River and illegally collecting firewood in violation of his noncommercial private rafting trip permit.

Nels Nicholas Niemi, 75, was sentenced Dec. 1 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey.

Niemi was convicted during a late October bench trial.

“This prosecution and sentence remind all users of the Colorado River that the rules and regulations designed to protect the ecosystem within the Grand Canyon National Park are important and will be vigorously enforced,” U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo said.

Evidence at trial showed that Niemi was the trip leader of a 12 day trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon National Park. He was apprised by National Park Service staff at the outset of his trip of the requirements of his permit including that driftwood could not be collected for fires and, at the end of the trip, the group take with them all refuse, trash and garbage produced.

During the course trip, trash was dumped into the river on a daily basis, either by Niemi or at his direction as the trip leader, and Niemi collected driftwood, which he used to make fires each night.

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