Utah Man Sentenced for Hosting Illegal Dirt Bike Races in Grand Teton National Park

by Craig Garrett
Group of boys on motorcycles at motocross start line - stock photo

A Utah man was sentenced to 18 months of unsupervised probation and fined over $9,000 for allegedly holding illegal dirt bike races. The illegal races were held at Grand Teton National Park. Jake Hobbs plead guilty to property damage and operating a car off-road. He was first accused of three other counts: destroying plants, not reporting an incident, and injury to a historic monument. However, those charges were later dropped, Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.

Chief U.S. Magistrate Kelly Rankin judged that Hobbs was not allowed to enter the park for 18 months. The charges come from a video taken on July 18, 2020, which showed dirt bikes driving south on Mormon Row. The video, according to court documents, showed a group of people- anywhere from 30 to 40. They were taking apart a race course and putting away chairs while simultaneously moving dirt bikes towards vehicles that were parked nearby. In the video, there was also some juveniles as well as an apparent professional photographer.

Hobbs was speaking into a handheld microphone attached to a bullhorn in the middle of the course when he was identified. The video, as well as other videos and photos from the event, showed people holding race flags and guiding motorcycle riders around the track. Footage also showed white track markers in the ground which marked out the course.

The dirt bikers claim no ‘official’ race took place

Travers, who is representing Hobbs, stated that he believed Mormon Row was situated on Bureau of Land Management property. His group stayed for an hour and no formal race took place. Alec Chapman, a Supervisory Park Ranger assigned to Teton Park, said that after receiving the call from dispatch at 8:44 p.m., rangers were unable to locate the group later that evening.

He later discovered the friends were staying at the Gros Ventre Campground for an annual party. On his reservation, Hobbs stated that his group had been camping there every year for 11 years now. The history behind Mormon Row is compelling, as the buildings date back to the turn of the century. Moreover, it’s now home to a natural resource restoration project focused on removing non-native grasses and returning the area to its original sagebrush steppe ecosystem.

Since 2016, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation has been financially aiding the restoration project. This is in coordination with the National Park Service. Maddy Johnson (communications director for the association) said that half a million dollars have been used to restore the natural sagebrush habitat.

According to Chapman, the event damage totaled an estimate of 4,000 square feet. The assessment and restoration costs were $3,690.96. The $9,710.96 in fines that Hobbs owes includes $3,690.86 for “community restitution.” The social media tracks left behind by the group were just as detrimental as the dirt bike damage. Chapman discovered Instagram posts from a pit bike race at Mormon Row with the #boltsbday11 hashtag.