Monday, December 21, 2009

2 admit stealing seed pods in Zion Park

Two men have pleaded guilty to trying to steal 600 pounds of wildflower seed pods in southern Utah's Zion National Park in hopes of a payday on the commercial market. Cresencio Martinez-Guzman, 44, and Cresencio Lucena-Alvarez, 23, pleaded guilty to felony theft of government property and were sentenced to probation Dec. 7. They also admitted being in the U.S. illegally and agreed not to fight deportation. The pair had apparently spent weeks in a remote portion of the park pinching Palmer's penstemon, a tall-growing native plant whose seeds are often used by government agencies for reseeding projects, according to court records. They were arrested in September after Zion park rangers spotted them with several large bags of seed pods inside the park's western boundary. The commercial value of the pair's cache was about $25,000, according to court documents. Commercial seed collecting is a bustling business in southern Utah, and it's legal on other federal lands with a permit — but not in more

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