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Photo of tourists flouting rule at national park sparks upset online: 'Infuriating to see'

Disregarding signage in natural areas is dangerous.

Disregarding signage in natural areas is dangerous.

Photo Credit: iStock

Two tourists at Rocky Mountain National Park are taking heat after posing for photos in an area restricted for ecosystem health.

In the subreddit r/IAmTheMainCharacter, a Redditor shared a photo of a would-be influencer standing on a rock just beyond a sign warning to stay on the path.

The individuals in the photo have clearly crossed the vulnerable tundra ecosystem in order to step onto the rock one of them is using as a pedestal.

Disregarding signage in natural areas is dangerous.
Photo Credit: Reddit

The tourists' short adventure on the tundra at Rocky Mountain National Park is significant because stepping off the trail can damage flora and fauna. The National Park Service writes: "Repeated footsteps often destroy tundra plants, allowing exposed soil to blow away. Recovery may take hundreds of years."

Photos of similar scenarios in national parks are often popular in online communities of environmentalists, nature lovers, and people watchers.

The reasons for their popularity vary, but many take issue with the damage people cause to the environment — and how this behavior impacts everyone else's access to nature.

In a more general sense, this kind of behavior violates the spirit of protected natural areas. The damage it does to ecosystems and the stress it causes to fellow tourists, wildlife, and rangers can be significant.

It may be easy to forget that while tourists are guests, the parks are home to living plants and creatures. Furthermore, disregarding signage in natural areas is dangerous. Steep drops, defensive wildlife, or otherwise precarious circumstances can lead to injury or death.

In places where people are trying to establish a connection to nature that could inspire action or introspection about healing the natural world, it is important to protect both nature itself and the experiences of other people.

"Yes, it's beautiful, but an ecosystem implies living things that will die because of this disruption," one commenter pointed out.

"[Beyond] infuriating to see," someone else wrote

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