Mount Rainier in Washington state is home to precious wildflower meadows and Austin Jackson took photos of the gathered crowds standing on the protected pastures.
“Anyone who has visited knows how important and fragile the wildflower meadows are to Mount Rainier,” says Jackson.
“Hundreds of people had no problem setting up all along the meadows to witness the meteor shower. At the same time, those people had absolutely zero regard for the National Park or the other visitors.”
Jackon, who regularly captures stunning photos of America’s national parks, also railed against the visitors’ parking.
“The parking lot was easily at double capacity, with well over 50 cars parked illegally,” he says.
“We talked to one woman who had been trapped for three hours as she had been triple parked (the person who blocked her in got blocked in by someone else).”
Jackson says he spoke to a ranger who had run out of warning stickers to slap on the cars and was simply too overwhelmed to write out tickets.
“Shame on the people visiting for their absolute disregard for the National Park itself and the other visitors, and shame on the park service and law enforcement for not being able to protect the park and shut the gates to stop the bleeding,” says a passionate Jackson.
According to Kiro 7, witnesses saw bonfires being lit in the alpine meadows. An official at Mount Rainier National Park responded with a statement.
“Mount Rainier National Park’s night sky viewing is enjoyed responsibly by thousands of visitors every year and the majority of visitors follow posted guidance to stay on trails to avoid damaging the beautiful yet fragile alpine meadows. The recent Perseid meteor shower peak attracted many visitors at both Sunrise and Paradise,” a spokesperson says.
“Impacts to the alpine meadows are currently being assessed, and the park is reviewing reports of damage to the Sunrise wildflower meadows during the evening activities.
“Alpine wildflowers have just a few weeks to grow and produce seeds, while also serving as food to pollinators and other animals. The plant’s roots, leaves, and flowers can be destroyed by off-trail travel, and trampled plants may never return. Scars on the landscape can take decades to regrow due to the short growing season and harsh alpine climate.”
Image credits: All photos by Austin Jackson.