The charges stem from the June 10 incident at Hanging Lake. 

David Lesh is the owner of an outdoor clothing company, and back in June, he made headlines when he endangered the fragile ecosystem at Hanging Lake by stepping out onto the log that sits in the middle of the national landmark. Lesh posted pictures of his stunt to social media to promote his business and was met with outrage and backlash.

Lesh is now facing several misdemeanor charges for his antics, a six-count indictment was filed against Lesh earlier this week in Grand Junction. Each charge is a misdemeanor that carries up to a $5,000 fine and a possible six months in jail for each charge.

Lesh has been charged with the following:

  • Entering an area closed for the protection of threatened, endangered, rare, unique, or vanishing plants, animals, or fish when entering the Hanging Lake National Natural Landmark Area.
  • Entering an area closed for the protection of special biological communities.
  • Entering an area closed for the protection of property.
  • Entering an area closed for the protection of historical, archeological, geological, or paleontological interest.
  • Entering a prohibited body of water.
  • One count for operating a snowmobile off a designated route from the April 24, 2020 incident.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office does not intend to seek imprisonment, according to the Aspen Times. Lesh does, however, face the possibility of being banned from entering any Forest Service Lands if he is convicted. Lesh is set to appear in Court on September 22 in Grand Junction. 

This was not his first offense either. At the time, Lesh was under investigation for two other incidents where he rode his snowmobile on closed lands Keystone's terrain park in April (also posted on social media), and another incident in July 2019 when he was caught riding a snowmobile near Independence Pass in an off-limits area. In 2014, Lesh was cited for hitting a moose with his car, and for setting 25 shopping carts on fire in Boulder.

On June 10, 2020, the same day that Lesh was cited for the pictures from Hanging Lake, he settled the case against him for illegally snowmobiling near Independence Pass in an off-limits area.

The Instagram post below is what tipped authorities off to the violation of the rules:

Hanging Lake is a beloved natural wonder here in Colorado and a protected environment due to the fragile and sensitive environmental conditions in the area. It is a National Natural Landmark as well, and major efforts have been taken to preserve the pristine and fragile lake. 

We will all be waiting to find out what happens with the charges Lesh faces, and hope this is a lesson to all to respect the natural treasures of our state. The rules are not there to be bothersome, they are there to preserve this amazing place so that people can visit and enjoy the area for many years to come. 

What do you think about the charges Lesh faces? Sound off in the comments.