Nature conservation violations Extreme hiker admits mistakes after heavy fine
Siebengebirge · The discussion about extreme hiker Sebastian Reuter continues. In a new video, he now admits to having made mistakes and acknowledges violations of nature in the Rhine-Sieg district. On other points, however, he sticks to his guns.
Extreme hiker Sebastian Reuter shows insight - at least in legal terms. In a new video he posted on his YouTube channel "Outdoor mit Sebastian" ("Outdoor with Sebastian") at the weekend, the 40-year-old from Cologne admits his violations of the regulatory ordinance for the Siebengebirge nature reserve and the Wahner Heide landscape plan. But he does not want to accept everything unchallenged. Last week, however, he had already admitted that he wanted to pay the fine.
In his most recent video, Reuter has promised that he will refrain from such actions that he shares with thousands of followers on YouTube and which earned him a hefty fine from the Rhein-Sieg district . In the meantime, he has deleted the videos of his hikes and plans to publish them again soon in a revised version. He has also removed his angry video in which he had complained about the fine.
Rhein-Sieg district fears imitators
The Rhein-Sieg district had fined Reuter 10,480.15 euros for 22 violations. The authority justifies the amount of the fine with the reach of the extreme hiker, who has more than 50,000 subscribers, and his function as a role model.
The Drei-Seen-Blick is one of the most beautiful views in the Siebengebirge. Photo: Frank Homann
Reuter's video, published at the weekend, is entitled "Don't imitate! 10,000 euro fine". There he admits that he would have been better off making the previous rage video after sleeping on it for a night. "Content-wise it would have been the same, but free of anger," Reuter says in the new video, which shows footage of his violations backed with the notice "Archive footage! Do not copy!" behind it.
Extreme hiker admits mistakes
"I, too, am prepared to admit mistakes if I have made any," says Reuter. In doing so, he distinguishes between admissions on a legal level of having violated applicable rules of a regulation and admissions on a substantive level.
Reuter denies having acted intentionally, which the Rhein-Sieg district accuses him of. He had assumed that it would be sufficient, even in a nature reserve, not to leave any rubbish, not to make any noise, not to let dogs run free and not to act like a hooligan. "I was not aware that there is a separate ordinance for the Siebengebirge nature reserve."
Forest fire danger convincing
He then goes into detail about the violations he was accused of. When lighting a fire, which the district penalised with 1200 euros, he had assumed that everyone was capable of handling a small fire responsibly. However, he said the reasoning behind the ban, that a fire in a nature reserve was a potential source of danger for a forest fire, was satisfactory to him. "I realise my mistakes with regard to starting and maintaining a fire and will refrain from doing so in the future."
Reuter has also accepted the charge that he disturbed several animals, in this case a spider and a fire salamander, and frightened them with the light of his camera. Even if he assumed that the animals had not suffered any harm, the ordinance was clear, he said. "So I see my violation on the legal level, but not on the substantive level. I will not deliberately shine a light on any more animals."
Reuter also does not want to enter the Ofenkaulen and other tunnels in the Siebengebirge anymore. He had not been aware that large bat populations occur in the strictly protected tunnel system.
Hiker raises questions about drone ban
The extreme hiker, on the other hand, cannot understand why drones are prohibited but sports aircraft are allowed to circle over the Siebengebirge. "In terms of content, that makes no sense." However, he will refrain from using drones in the future anyway, as the stricter laws for drones mean that this hobby will take care of itself.
Reuter also cannot understand why, on the one hand, it is permitted to rest indefinitely in refuges, but on the other hand, it is not permitted to spend the night there on a sleeping mat and in a sleeping bag. "I have no understanding or sympathy for that." However, he said, the ordinance is clear, which is why he will not spend the night in refuges in the Siebengebirge in the future.
Need for better signposting
Reuter sees a great need for improvement in the marking of permitted and prohibited trails by the district. The authority had imposed fines of 110 euros each on him for using unmarked paths. "I wonder why prohibited paths are not blocked by an obstacle or one is made aware of them by a sign," he says. It can happen all too easily to hikers in the Siebengebirge that they are unintentionally on off-limits paths without noticing it. Reuter promises to be careful in future and to avoid paths that are not marked with an arrow.
His alleged awareness of the issue of waste disposal seems rather bizarre. By removing the completely cooled ashes, he had been mistaken in his assumption that he was doing something good for the forest soil. Today he knows that ash contains different ingredients and is highly alkaline, which is why it is only used to fertilise over-acidified soils. "Unfortunately, I knew neither the composition of the ash nor the pH value of the soil. But that is not to say that I will dispose of ash on the forest floor again if the pH values are known."
Criticism of the size of the fine
On one point, Reuter definitely does not back down from his previous position. "Even though I have changed my opinion on many points, I feel that the level of the fine is completely disproportionate," he says in the video. He can only partially understand the district's reference to his not entirely small reach and role model function, he says. "I was so far of the opinion that everyone is responsible for their own actions and cannot refer to a YouTube video when being held accountable for their misconduct."
Original text: Hansjürgen Melzer
Translation: Jean Lennox