December 10, 2014 / 3:38 AM / 5 years ago

Rafter fined for dumping trash in Grand Canyon river

(Reuters) - An Alaska man who led a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon has been fined nearly $2,500 for dumping trash in the Colorado River and illegally collecting firewood, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Nels Nicholas Niemi, 75, was the leader of a 12-day non-commercial rafting trip through Grand Canyon National Park during which rubbish was dropped in the river daily, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said.

Niemi was told at the outset that his group must take with them all refuse and garbage it produced, the office said in a statement, adding he then displayed complete disregard for regulations designed to protect the river ecosystem.

The Colorado River passes through the Grand Canyon, which is one the world’s top tourist attractions and is visited by more than 4.5 million people every year.

U.S. Attorney John Leonardo said the prosecution of Niemi, who was convicted in October, should remind all river users that the rules were important and would be vigorously enforced.

Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Peter Cooney

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