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Washington man who organized crowd in the Grand Canyon and lied about it to park officials sentenced

A Washington state man was sentenced to two years probation and banned from federal lands throughout Arizona after leading a crowd of people on a group hike in the Grand Canyon. 

Federal officials say Joseph Mount organized a hike of the Grand Canyon for 139 people from its South rim through the inner canyon to the North rim.

Mount was warned that the national park’s rule limited hiking groups to just 11 people without a special-use permit. And no groups are allowed of more than 30. Investigators say he kept recruiting hikers via Facebook and denied it to park officials who warned him about the restrictions.

"An event like this that took place, involving 139 people, that generated a lot of impact, not only to users on the trail but also the resources," Park spokeswoman Joelle Baird said.

Investigators said he tried to distance himself from the group. Other hikers complained to park rangers about the crowd. One ranger noted members of the group pretended not to know each other in his presence.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.