A Walla Walla man has been sentenced in federal court to pay a $200 fine after pleading guilty to illegally landing his airplane twice in a Blue Mountain wilderness area east of Walla Walla.
In fall 2014 a group of hunters were annoyed to see a plane flying low and with its tail numbers removed. It landed in a meadow on Smooth Ridge, a secluded area in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area.
The wilderness area has deep canyons with steep slopes, making access difficult.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited in wilderness areas. Operating one is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 and six months in jail.
An investigation found that Brent Dawson had landed his airplane on Smooth Ridge both in the fall of 2014 and the fall of 2013, leaving garbage at the landing site both times, according to court documents.
Hunters who reported the plane were able to provide photos and detailed descriptions, and one received a cash reward for his cooperation in the investigation.
“Federal wilderness lands are a treasure, especially here in the Northwest,” said Michael Ormsby, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, “This guilty plea shows our office’s commitment to preserving that treasure for future generations to enjoy.”